D. Developing Competitive Web Browsing Software

133. Once it became clear to senior executives at Microsoft that Netscape would not abandon its efforts to develop Navigator into a platform, Microsoft focused its efforts on ensuring that few developers would write their applications to rely on the APIs that Navigator exposed. Developers would only write to the APIs exposed by Navigator in numbers large enough to threaten the applications barrier if they believed that Navigator would emerge as the standard software employed to browse the Web. If Microsoft could demonstrate that Navigator would not become the standard, because Microsoft's own browser would attract just as much if not more usage, then developers would continue to focus their efforts on a platform that enjoyed enduring ubiquity: the 32-bit Windows API set. Microsoft thus set out to maximize Internet Explorer's share of browser usage at Navigator's expense.

134. Microsoft's management believed that, no matter what the firm did, Internet Explorer would not capture a large share of browser usage as long as it remained markedly inferior to Navigator in the estimation of consumers. The task of technical personnel at Microsoft, then, was to make Internet Explorer's features at least as attractive to consumers as Navigator's. Microsoft did not believe that improved quality alone would depose Navigator, for millions of users appeared to be satisfied with Netscape's product, and Netscape was known as 'the Internet company.' As Gates wrote to Microsoft's executive staff in his May 1995 "Internet Tidal Wave" memorandum, "First we need to offer a decent client," but "this alone won't get people to switch away from Netscape." Still, once Microsoft ensured that the average consumer would be just as comfortable browsing with Internet Explorer as with Navigator, Microsoft could employ other devices to induce consumers to use its browser instead of Netscape's.

135. From 1995 onward, Microsoft spent more than $100 million each year developing Internet Explorer. The firm's management gradually increased the number of developers working on Internet Explorer from five or six in early 1995 to more than one thousand in 1999. Although the first version of Internet Explorer was demonstrably inferior to Netscape's then-current browser product when the former was released in July 1995, Microsoft's investment eventually started to pay technological dividends. When Microsoft released Internet Explorer 3.0 in late 1996, reviewers praised its vastly improved quality, and some even rated it as favorably as they did Navigator. After the arrival of Internet Explorer 4.0 in late 1997, the number of reviewers who regarded it as the superior product was roughly equal to those who preferred Navigator.

Microsoft Findings Home
Findings of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, Nov. 5, 1999

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