InfoWorld: Microsoft exec says company feared browser comparisons

“Microsoft feared its Web browser would lose out in
“side-by-side comparisons” to rival products and so it required
ISPs to distribute Microsoft’s browser to 85 percent of

“You were concerned that if you presented users with a choice,
side by side, they would pick the Netscape browser rather than
yours?” Boies asked.

“Yes, that’s right,” Myhrvold conceded. He added that Microsoft
was late, or a “Johnny-come-lately” to the browser market.

“The concession was made during a day of tough questioning about
scores of agreements Microsoft entered into with the world’s
largest ISPs starting in 1996, in which the company required
distribution of its browser to an overwhelming majority of
customers. In order to sew up that distribution channel, Microsoft
was even willing to pay ISPs to switch from distributing Netscape’s
popular Navigator browser and pay “bounties” for each ISP customer
converted from Netscape to Microsoft. Under the contracts signed
with scores of ISPs, the companies could be kicked off the Windows
desktop or out of Microsoft’s Internet referral system if they
failed to meet IE distribution targets of 50 percent to 85 percent
of customers.”

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