Browser wars (Definition)

The contest between browser manufacturers to gain dominance in the market.

As this is being written, it is clear that Microsoft has won the war of the browsers - for now at least. The Netscape browser has lost market share, to the extent that it is fast becoming a minority browser.

This poses an interesting situation, in that Microsoft has sufficient market share that they can perhaps reduce the effort that it put into browser support.

Actually, it is at such a time that it should put even more resources into it. That is because, now that it is so dominant, it should be obliged to make sure its browser is supported identically on every platform it is available on, and make it available on any remaining platforms.

Whether it will do this is open to question as it could detract from its dominance of the operating system marketplace.

This conflict of interests is potentially damaging for the end-user and the web developer.

Right at this moment, there is a significant proportion of the feature set in MSIE that is not supported on platforms other than Windows.

Granted, it is acceptable that COM and ActiveX cannot easily be provided on non Windows platforms, but the CSS support should be identical, as should the integration with clipboards and other parts of the OS where it is possible.

Netscape 6.0 has just been released in its final form as this is being written. The new version is so radically different as to classify it as being a different browser. Its internal document model follows the DOM specification very closely. Netscape has adhered to the DOM specified class names where Microsoft has not, even though they have constructed a DOM representative object model in the browser.

Maybe Netscape can win back some proportion of the users it has lost to Microsoft in the last few years. However, there is still much to be done to correct some shortcomings in the released quality of the new Netscape browser.