Sunday, 2 March 2008

Memoirs of a browser user, part 1

I think the first browser I used was Netscape Navigator. This was back in the late 1990s, and it was going head to head with Internet Explorer (IE). Remember the browser war?

Browsers are free. As in they cost nothing. Gratis. Therefore, the war is not about how much money can be made from browser sales. It's about the percentage of usage.

IE became a market leader through a controversial strategy. Microsoft, the makers of IE, made it the default browser for the Windows operating system. Internet usage was still growing at this time, and many people didn't know any better. Only a few users went for Navigator or other Windows-based browsers.

Navigator grew, but sadly got obese. Netscape developed Navigator further and added more features to it, but performance did not improve much. It got too slow in fact. I was sad to see Navigator sink. Netscape is a company that will be remembered as a short-lived but revolutionary. It transformed the industry in many ways.

Microsoft was happy about this, undoubtedly. It wanted to be the #1 in many areas, and this was its chance to make IE the browser king.

Soon later new facts emerged about IE. Scary facts. IE is not only the default browser for Windows, but it is also part of Windows. There were reports that uninstalling IE would cause some critical bugs in other software. Without it, Windows and other software would refuse to work properly.

Then came worse news. Due to the fact IE is part of Windows, evil hackers saw this as a window of opportunity to attack Windows-based system. IE also uses ActiveX, a Microsoft-owned technology that was supposed to deliver more functionality and multimedia capabilities. Evil hackers use ActiveX to create malicious software (malware) like trojan horses instead.

(Hacking can basically be described as taking apart software —or even anything— to find any ways to improve it. It is not an 'evil' activity by itself. Hence the term "evil hackers.")

All these issues landed IE in trouble and eroded the user's confidence in it. It was no longer seen as secure. People needed security, and they began to look elsewhere.

Enter young sparrows, Firebird and Opera.

To be continued...


mudin001 said...

nice one! it can be your memoirs as well as mine :)

rol said...

Jazakallah. Those were the days, eh?

mudin001 said...

Ya rol, itu zaman internet cyber cafe, makmal komputer sekolah pun belum ada internet.

Sekarang zaman internet jalur lebar tanpa wayar!


rol said...

Teringat masa pergi CC dengan kawan sebab nak tengok apa bendalah chatting tu.

ieka said...

heheh aku pun teringat zaman sekolah dulu bila ko dan Aa cuba menerangkan kepada aku apa itu internet, dan chatting, dan email. kekeke something that made me suprised at that point of time.. and later masuk MMU aku pun belajar semua itu.. termasuk menggunakan netscape communicator, dan masih setia walaupun IE sudah berada di pasaran sehingga ianya menjadi (as you mentioned) sgt lembab...

rol said...

AA lagi maju daripada aku. Aku sekadar baca daripada suratkhabar, majalah. AA ada pengalaman menggunakan Internet.

Insya-Allah lebih banyak tentang IE dalam bahagian seterusnya.

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