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   Re: [xml-dev] The non-future of XHTML x.x [LONG]

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Andrew Watt wrote:

> > There has always
> > been at least one and usually several open source web browser projects
> > since the invention of the Web.
> The first browser I used was Lynx in (I think) 1994. I assume it was and is
> open source. Anyone remember what open source browsers came before that?

Lynx actually predates the Web.  It started off as a front end
for a campus-wide information system at the University of Kansas.

In 1994, Mosaic, Viola, Chimera, and the CERN line-mode browser
were around.  Mosaic was the most popular.

> When Netscape came along with a graphical paid-for browser users voted with
> their feet and bought it in droves.

That's not what happened.

Netscape 1.0 was available for free download (in binary-only form).
Unix users downloaded it in droves because it was a huge improvement
over NCSA Mosaic for X.

> Netscape, for the time, was the rich-client which added sufficient value
> compared to the open source alternative(s) of the time that it took a
> sizeable slice of the market.

Yep, and Netscape Navigator continued to improve dramatically at
each release (up until around the 4.0 series, when it started
degrading into the bloated, buggy, crash-prone monster we've
all come to know and hate.)

But they weren't charging money for it.

[ Another reason Netscape gained market share is that they went
  and *hired* everybody who was working on open-source browsers
  to come and work for them instead :-)  Just about the entire
  Mosaic development team, plus Lou Montulli (the author of Lynx)
  were early MCC employees. ]

> A rich-client (rich by whatever the standards of the time are) can survive
> and grow market share despite the existence of open-source competitors. But
> it must provide added value.
> You commented that open-source was always there. History shows that, at least
> at times, a paid-for rich-client  can prosper in an environment where there
> is competing open source. So my premise is not intrinsically impossible, as
> history as shown.

I don't remember Netscape ever charging money for Navigator.
I certainly never paid for it.  They may have licensed it to ISVs,
but it was always available to end users for free download.

I'm not sure what Mosaic Communications Corporation's business plan was
(that's what Netscape called itself before UIUC threatened to sue
for trademark infringement);  I think it was something like
"First, take over the world.  Once we have our software on everybody's
desktop then we're sure to find a way to make money off it."

Opera is the only company I can think of that's made a living
by selling Web browsers.

(A side note: NCSA Mosaic for Windows ("the Comet") was actually
pretty slick, way better than its Unix counterpart.  UIUC later
licensed the code to a few other companies, including SoftQuad --
and Microsoft.  Last time I checked, the MSIE "About..." box
still listed UIUC as one of the copyright holders to the code.)

--Joe English



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