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Chapter 1. The Problem with the Blue E > Microsoft, IE, and the Browser Wars

1.4. Microsoft, IE, and the Browser Wars

Windows 95 (codenamed "Chicago" inside Microsoft) was far along in development by the fall of 1994. At that stage, the company was not planning to include a web browser as part of the operating system. By the start of 1995, however, Microsoft executives had decided that Netscape's web browser was a threat, and they decided to quickly develop a browser of their own. At the time, a company named Spyglass had licensed NCSA's Mosaic technology and trademarks, and it in turn licensed that same technology to Microsoft as the base of what would become Internet Explorer.

Traces of history

To this day, if you open IE and go to Help → About Internet Explorer, it still says "Based on NCSA Mosaic... Distributed under a licensing agreement with Spyglass, Inc."

The arrangement was that Microsoft would pay Spyglass a quarterly fee plus a percentage of the revenues Microsoft realized from selling the software. Since Microsoft ended up giving IE away for free, Spyglass saw only a fraction of what it had expected to make, taking in only around $400,000. Eventually, after Spyglass filed a lawsuit in 1997, Microsoft settled by paying the small company $8 million.


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