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Time.com: The Browser That Roared

Apr 25, 2002, 13:00 (38 Talkback[s])

"In the beginning there was one Web browser. It was called Mosaic, and if you didn't like it you could go back to watching Murphy Brown, or whatever it was we did before we had the Web. Then Microsoft started giving away Internet Explorer, Mosaic turned into Netscape, and suddenly life was complicated. It was like Coke vs. Pepsi, or Mets vs. Yankees: everybody had to choose. When Microsoft won the browser wars, by hook or by crook (the jury is still out on that), life got simple again.

"Brace yourself. A nonprofit group loosely affiliated with Netscape is about to release a new browser called Mozilla. It's fast, it's flexible, and it has the backing of AOL (which owns Netscape, not to mention Time) and its 35 million users. Life is about to get complicated.

"What makes Mozilla so special is the highly unorthodox process that produced it. As they worked, Mozilla's engineers released rough drafts onto the Internet, so hackers everywhere could try them out, suggest ideas, fix bugs and generally stress-test the bejeezus out of Mozilla. This is a technique called "open source"; big corporations rarely use it because it involves giving other people free access to the innards--or source code--of your software. But given AOL's chilly relationship with Microsoft, that seemed a small price to pay for an alternative to Internet Explorer..."

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