Microsoft’s Chromium Edge Browser moves to beta: Who knew a browser could be exciting again?

 [Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.]

The new version of Microsoft Edge based on Chromium is moving to beta. It’s hard to look at this new and innovative browser and not think back on Internet Explorer. Times were very different back then, and IE was Microsoft’s answer to Netscape Navigator, the first dominant browser. Microsoft rode IE to almost 100% market share before they pulled resources from it, and it dropped largely into obscurity.

This slide was a painful lesson to watch, but the pain Microsoft experienced effectively saved the company. It also eventually set up the success they are having in the cloud today with Azure, and made them a much better company.

What’s fascinating is Microsoft not only could have avoided the pain, but companies like Apple, Facebook and Google, who are themselves under anti-trust review, could have learned from Microsoft’s mistakes and avoided the pain they’re going through now.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer represented the old technology model: Everything had to be proprietary and big companies like Microsoft could execute on the rule that it was their way or no way. It wasn’t a particularly customer-friendly approach, but it was pretty common in the market. Netscape lacked the contacts Microsoft had and also had an excessively inflated view of its collective competence. In short, Netscape couldn’t execute to save their lives and basically handed the market on a silver platter to Microsoft. Had Microsoft not fumbled, both firms would likely be out of business today rather than just Netscape.

But Microsoft cheated, created an example of why the saying “don’t kick a dying man” was relevant and got slapped badly…even though what they did didn’t work and Netscape’s failure was their fault (a position Mark Andreeson disagrees with very strongly). But this forced Microsoft to rethink their approach and, over the next 10 years, they went from being the biggest opponent of Linux and open source to one of their biggest supporters/advocates.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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