Feeds

Browser wars suit ends with death knell for Netscape

Microsoft, AOL settle for $750m

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A lawsuit intended to bring justice to Netscape has ended with a deal that sounds the death knell for the browser.

Microsoft today agreed to settle a private antitrust suit brought by AOL Time Warner, paying the latter $750 million.

The case was brought "to restore competition lost in the operating system market and in the Web browser market because of Microsoft's illegal conduct."

But amongst the many bonuses for Redmond in the settlement, AOL committed to renewing its royalty-free license to incorporate Internet Explorer into its own software for seven years. Asked if this meant that AOL's Netscape division would be spun-off, AOL CEO Richard Parsons replied: "Not at this point," following up later with "Not at this time."

Hardly a resounding vote of confidence in the open source browser. AOL is the main sponsor, and the largest commercial client of the Mozilla project. The Netscape division employs between "two and three hundred" staff in Silicon Valley, a far cry from 1998 when AOL acquired the company in a stock swap worth $4.2 billion. Several hundred Netscape staff were transferred to Sun Microsystems - matchmaker for the deal - two years ago.

Then again, earlier this week Steve Case raised the idea of selling off the AOL Internet business altogether, returning Time Warner closer to its roots as an 'old' media company.

AOL has also agreed to license Microsoft's media player and DRM technology in what Bill Gates described as "the most comprehensive media license we've done." Much of the detail will remain confidential, although from the excerpts released it's clear that this will be non-exclusive and non-binding. The two sides also agreed to "explore" interoperability between their IM clients.

Internet Explorer is a surprising winner in the settlement. Neglected by Microsoft for several years, the browser was recently described here as looking "more tired than a shemale street walker in San Francisco's Tenderloin on a Saturday night". In comparison with more modern browsers such as Opera, noted Ashlee Vance, "it's just a rectangle".

With or without AOL's patronage, Mozilla-based projects will continue to flourish. But the new owner of the once iconic brand will have to decide whether continued investment in packaging the source as the Netscape Browser justifies the expense. ®

Related Stories

AOL/Netscape sues MS
Opera: your mother should know

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.