The ancient past

A movement can exist without a god but never without a devil

And the FOSS community is the best example. Though, sometimes the villian  is not evil enough, so you have to spice up the truth.

And like in primitive societies, where no one is able to read and write, and stories had to be passed orally (and so losing details), so is the FOSS community passing its stories from generation to generation – but in opposite to the ancient past, they omit details on purpose.

Thanks to the story tellers, all freetards know about the story how the evil Microsoft destroyed Netscape just by bundling Internet Explorer (evil POS of course) with Windows 98.

Unfortunately, the truth is a bit more complicated:

Published: October 3, 1997 5:00 PM PDT

“Microsoft (MSFT) said today that more than 1 million copies of its
Internet Explorer 4.0 Web browser have been downloaded since it was
released Tuesday night.

The company said that number  set a record demand for any Microsoft
product in this amount of time. The figure does not include downloads
from 20 partner sites that also offer IE 4.0, the company added.

The more than 1 million downloads amounted to at least six copies per

Traffic to Microsoft’s Web site had been surging as the
much-anticipated release date neared. On September 30 alone, the
company recorded 1.5 million visits to the site. Microsoft also
reiterated that 200,000 people had ordered IE 4.0 on CD-ROM.

Although Microsoft said it has increased the capacity of its Web
servers, users have complained about congestion and busy signals at
the Web site. The company boosted its site’s download capacity to 6.1
terabytes, which would allow about 450,000 browser downloads a day, a
spokeswoman said. However, throughout this week, the site was jammed
with traffic from users looking for the software, many unable to get

Internet Explorer 4.0, released Tuesday after five months of beta
testing, is Microsoft’s attempt to make the browser wars irrelevant.
By building IE 4.0 into Windows, Microsoft hopes to make the browser
just another utility that comes with the operating system. That
integration won’t truly happen until Microsoft ships Windows 98 next
year, but the release of IE 4.0 for Windows 95 is a major step in
that direction.

Netscape Communications dominates the browser market, but Microsoft
thinks IE 4.0 will give it more than a 50 percent market share.

A survey of 279 corporate users released earlier this week by Zona
Research shows Netscape’s Navigator remains the leading browser with
a 62 percent share, compared with a 36 percent share for Microsoft’s
IE. Explorer’s share has risen to 36 percent from 3 percent in the
past 18 months, the survey shows.


“IE 4: One Million Downloads On Day 1

(10/03/97; 5:00 p.m. EDT)

REDMOND, Wash. — Microsofts Internet Explorer 4.0 is off to a huge
start. In the first 24 hours of availability, the company reports
more than one million copies have been downloaded from its home page,
an average of one download every 6 seconds.
The numbers are all the more remarkable given IE 4.0s size. The
browser-only version is 13 megabytes (MB), the standard version,
which offers the desktop integration, is 16 MB, and the full version
is 25 MB. With a modem speed of 28.8 kilobytes per second, the
standard for home users, the Web-only download can take 1.5 hours,
and the full version can take more than 3 hours. Partly for that
reason, perhaps, more than 200,000 people have preordered the CD for
$4.95. Microsoft began shipping the CDs this week.

The one-million-downloads figure covers only copies downloaded from It does not include downloads from the more than 20
mirror sites or the preordered CDs. To prepare for the flood,
Microsoft had to arrange for several terabytes of download bandwidth,
according to a Microsoft official at the San Francisco launch on
Tuesday night.

More than 10 terabytes of data have been sent out from the Microsoft
domain, according to Kevin Unangst, product manager for Internet
Explorer at Microsoft. The downloads are a mixture of browser-only,
standard, and full-install, according to Unangst. Microsoft has not
recorded whether the downloads are by corporate users or home users
and won’t know until more analysis of its logs, probably some time
next week.

Microsoft capped off its launch on Tuesday with a little prank. A
10-by-12 foot rendering of the “e” logo in Internet Explorer —
prominently placed on the floor of the warehouse during the launch —
was left at the front door of arch-nemesis Netscape Communications,
in Mountain View, Calif. A group of people were seen dropping off the
prop around 1:30 in the morning, according to a Netscape
spokesperson. A card on the giant “e” read, “From the IE team.”

Still, Netscape had the last laugh. Company employees put their
12-foot mascot Mozilla, a green Godzilla-like foam creature on top of
the prop with a card that read “Netscape 72, Microsoft 18” — a
reference to recent market share numbers. But Netscape’s
counter-pranksters must not have seen the recent numbers from Zona
Research, in Redwood City, Calif., which said Navigator has 62
percent of the market to IEs 36 percent share. “

Indeed, Internet Explorer was rising steadily long before Microsoft included it with Windows 98. Internet Explorer 4 was one of the most awaited software products in its day. It was way more standards compliant than Netscape, faster and had less bugs. Anyone remember the JS script that Dreamweaver included at wish, that fixed the resize bug in Netscape? There was a reason why Netscape’s nickname at that time was “Netscrap”.

Here’s a typical site of of the “Netscrap” period :

And you can’t say that Netscape critics were Microsoft lovers, on the same site the author is proclaiming the end of Windows (didn’t work out, huh?):

CSS handling in NS4:

As the quoted articles say, IE 4 was downloaded one million times in one day from the MS site alone in 1997. That’s enormous;  take into account the fact, that far less people were online back then and almost all of them were on slow dial-up connections. It’s far more impressive than Firefox’ download record of 8 million in 2008. And yes, many or most (in the US at least) OEMs pre-installed IE, but at that time Netscape was often pre-installed too, and  the download numbers show, that this was by far not the only reason for IE’s spread.

So, the decline of Netscape was on its way, long before Windows 98 appeared (in the 90s, one year in the internet business was like 3 years today).

Some more information about the standards compliancy of IE 4 and Netscape Navigator 4:

DHTML in Internet Explorer 4
As we saw in Chapter 17, IE 4 does not support the document.getElementById( ) method, nor does it support an API for dynamically creating new nodes and inserting them into a document. Instead, it provides the document.all[] array as a way of locating arbitrary elements of the document and allows document content to be altered with the innerHTML property of document elements. IE 4 does not conform to the standards here, but it provides adequate alternatives.

DHTML in Netscape 4
Creating DHTML effects with Netscape 4 is a more complicated affair. Netscape 4 does not support a full object model, so it does not allow JavaScript programs to refer to arbitrary HTML elements. It cannot, therefore, allow access to the inline styles of arbitrary elements. Instead, it defines a special Layer object.[68] Any element that is absolutely positioned (that is, any element that has its position style set to absolute) is placed in a separate layer from the rest of the document. This layer can be independently positioned, hidden, shown, lowered below or raised above other layers, and so on. The Layer API was proposed to the W3C for standardization but was never standardized..


DOM Compatibility with Internet Explorer 4

Although IE 4 is not DOM-compliant, it has features that are similar to the core DOM APIs. These features are not part of the DOM standard and are not compatible with Netscape, but they are compatible with later versions of IE. The features are summarized here; consult the client-side reference section of this book for more details.

DOM Compatibility with Netscape 4

Netscape 4 does not even come close to implementing the DOM standard. In particular, Netscape 4 provides no way to access or set attributes on arbitrary elements of a document. Netscape 4 supports the Level 0 DOM API, of course, so elements such as forms and links can be accessed through the forms[] and links[] arrays, but there is no general way to traverse the children of these elements or set arbitrary attributes on them. Furthermore, Netscape 4 does not have the ability to “reflow” document content in response to changes in element size.

These quotes are from the book “JavaScript, the definitive guide, fourth edition (2002)” from O’Reilly:

Many HTML and Javascript books from the end of the 90s to the beginning of the 2000s mention the better standard compliance of IE 4 compared to NS 4.
While neither browser was fully compliant, IE was far better in that regard.


3 responses to “The ancient past

  1. Pingback: Evilness | Penguin Day

  2. I never knew this :o
    Not only was this a good read, this is also the earliest reference of terabytes that I know. :D

  3. Those “20 partner sites” were significant, because Microsoft was basically inaccessible. Still, even then, the scenario was basically 21 download sites totally slammed. But, of course, there was no demand for IE4. It was forced down the users’ throats.

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