American Capitalism

Last night at midnight Pacific time, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 3.0 officially. Yesterday Netscape posted a new homepage outlining how Netscape Navigator 3.0 can kick the crap out of Internet Explorer 3.0. They also announced that the official 3.0 version will be released in one week.

This is a milestone event in the evolution of the Internet. For the first time, Netscape seems to be on the defensive in the browser wars. Over the past few months, Netscape has been under intense scrutiny by developers and the media. Fewer and fewer cutting edge features have been released from the Mountain View, CA company as of late.

And then the resources of Microsoft kicked in…

Microsoft has lined up over 2,000 ISPs to bundle Internet Explorer into their software, including America Online and Netcom. Microsoft has been wooing corporate users worldwide with one simple word: “FREE”. Netscape can not afford to give its software away while Microsoft considers it a smooth move to sell its NT Server software. The marketing machine of Microsoft has also been effective in making Internet Explorer seem much more popular than it actually is.

Does this mean Netscape should go on the offensive against the Redmond Giant? It seems to me it’s a choice of style. Do you vote for the presidential candidate who slings mud and airs negative ads or the candidate who sticks to the issues and emphasizes the positive in his own campaign over the negatives of his opponent? It’s a tough question.

I believe that in the end it doesn’t really matter. The browsers are close enough in functionality that either one will do the job in the corporate world. And the power of “FREE” goes a long way in the corporate community.

Think of it this way. An IS manager has 300 people working on different projects all who need a web browser for one reason or another. They all use Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and of course Microsoft Windows. The IS guy has a choice: Microsoft Internet Explorer for free or Netscape Navigator for $35 a pop. The choice is pretty straight forward. Business doesn’t care whether Microsoft is flirting with Anti-Trust legislation, they care about the bottom line, period.

I can give the virtues of one browser or the other, or expound upon the integrity of one company or another, but it just misses the point. Business doesn’t care. And if millions of people use one browser at work, they are probably not going to use a different browser at home. It might be bursting the bubble of most of the Internet community, but the truth is still the truth. Money talks and Bullshit walks. Collectively we have a very strong demographic and good buying power. Put that up against Corporate America and we will have our collective butts handed to us on a silver platter.

In this country, Lobbyists write the laws. Business men sell out our future for a quick buck. Corporations rape the environment and our pockets for decreased overhead. Public opinion takes a back seat to congressional fundraisers charging $1,000 a plate. Welcome to America, capitalism and all.

I started out with Netscape and Microsoft and now I’m thinking about the presidential race. I’m watching the GOP national convention as we speak. If you would like to call me bitter and cynical, that’s great. I hope that I’m wrong.

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