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CNET News.com: What AOL stands to lose in browser war

Aug 13, 1999, 20:54 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Festa)

"...today's browsers offer users considerable choice in how they browse the Web. Although both companies hope to get users hooked on their start pages, users easily can change their browser settings to begin with whatever portal, content, or commerce site they prefer. ...without a significant competitor to Internet Explorer on the market, that might no longer be the case."

" 'If there's only one browser, do you think in 2004 you can still change that home page?' asked Ramanathan Guha, chief technology officer of Epinions.com and former principal engineer at Netscape. ...Guha compared future battles over the IE start page to the 'screen wars' that erupted between Microsoft and computer makers at the dawn of the PC revolution of the 1980s. ...Microsoft acted to prevent computer manufacturers from altering the Windows start screen..."

"Microsoft did not rule out making the IE start page a permanent fixture."

"The other component to a potential browser monopoly that is keeping Microsoft's competitors up at night is the prospect of Microsoft controlling Internet technology standards. If Microsoft locks up the browser market, the company becomes the only significant player designing HTML architecture. ... Some say Web standards today are the equivalent of Windows application programming interfaces (APIs) a decade ago."

"But just as Microsoft argues that the Web has pulled the rug out from under its desktop software juggernaut, the company appears to be gaining a lock on the Web, too. Indeed, some portals already offer tools with Windows-only functionality.

Another way Microsoft could wield power through a browser monopoly is by locking Web publishers and merchants into its own proprietary technologies for tools vital to e-commerce, Epinions' Guha warned."

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