Browser Wars

What Does Browser Wars Mean?

The browser wars originally referred to a period of intense competition between Netscape and Microsoft over which web browser would come to dominate the market. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) lagged Netscape’s Navigator technically for much of the browser war period, but was given to users as a bundled product with the Windows operating system. Microsoft ended up winning the browser wars, and IE came to dominate the market in the 1990s.


However, IE's market share has since been eroded by the emergence of new browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Opera, sparking a new round of browser wars.

Techopedia Explains Browser Wars

Netscape was the dominant browser across all platforms before Microsoft decided to enter the market in the 1990s. Microsoft was willing to lose money making its web browsers because the loss could easily be made up by selling its operating system and other products. The turning point came in 1997, when both companies released their 4.0 versions. Both browsers were suffering from featuritis, but Microsoft’s pricing strategy – in which the the browser was given away for free – made its flaws easier to stomach.

The actual code from Navigator came back to haunt IE when the open-source Mozilla project took it up and began to release products, culminating in the Firefox browser. This began the next round of browser wars in the early 2000s. The main competitors in this browser war were Internet Explorer (replaced by Microsoft Edge in 2015), Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Opera. Despite being the newest entrant into the browser arena, Chrome quickly gained a dominant share of users.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…