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Zona Research: Browser War Over

In a study that gives credence to federal judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's finding that Microsoft is a monopoly in the Web browser market, Zona Research has released its final browser study and declared the end of an era. Most telling in Zona's final browser study is that of 236 companies surveyed, 73 percent had a corporate browser policy. Of those with a policy, 69 percent mandated Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) Internet Explorer as their Web browser, versus only 31 percent who used Netscape (www.netscape.com) Navigator as their official browser. Since July 1998, no other browser has been named as part of a corporate browser policy.

When Zona's first browser study was conducted in January 1996, there were nine players vying for a piece of a $200 million market. Today there are two dominant players in a zero dollar market.

"The battle for the hearts and minds of the browser market coalesced around two dominant vendors," said Clay Ryder, vice president and chief analyst at Zona Research (www.zonaresearch.com). "In striking similarity to the cola wars of the 1980's, shelves that primarily were filled with a preponderance of competing brands have all but given way to the reality of a Coke and Pepsi dominated marketplace. Likewise, brands such as Quarterdeck Mosaic, Wollongong Emissary, and NCD Mariner, have fallen by the wayside in a market controlled by Microsoft and Netscape."

In the first Zona study in January 1996, only 33 percent of companies had corporate browser policies, and of those, only 1 percent mandated Internet Explorer while an overwhelming 91 percent called for Navigator. Since that time, trends have gradually shifted in the opposite direction, until the most recent study.

The shift in browser use trends could give further credibility to Friday's "Finding of Facts" by a federal court against Microsoft Corp., stating that the company engages in monopolistic practices in the browser market. In the years since the release of Windows 95/NT -- and later, Windows 98 -- more companies have adopted it as their operating systems. With Internet Explorer bundled with the operating system software, it seemed the most convenient choice for many IT managers to alter their corporate browser policy to reflect the change in use, rather than vice versa. The result is the steady shift from Netscape's dominance of the browser field to Microsoft's. -- Isaac Slepner

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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