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WebSideStory: 'Browser Wars a Massacre'

Worldwide usage of the AOL-Netscape Navigator browser hit a record low, according to outsourced Web analytics provider WebSideStory Inc.

"The browser war is in fact a massacre," WebSideStory StatMarket's vice president of marketing Geoff Johnston said in a statement. "Unless AOL makes a move soon, Netscape may find itself battling Opera for the last 1 [percent] to 2 percent of the market."

Microsoft Internet Explorer's usage share now stands at 96 percent, up from 87 percent a year ago, according to data from WebSideStory's StatMarket service, which aggregates Internet user data as part of its Web site design and software optimization service.

Netscape's global usage dropped from 13 percent in August 2001 to 3.4 percent this month.

Naturally, Navigator's usage is higher than the global average in some geographies. Switzerland is a stronghold for the browser, with usage more than double the global average. Other countries where Netscape usage is higher than the global average include the United States, Canada and Germany.

According to WebSideStory, Netscape's share stood at 32 percent in 1999. AOL bought Netscape in March of that year.

The antitrust case stemmed from allegations that Microsoft used its market dominance in desktop operating systems to gain control of the Web browser market. Those allegations held up in court, and a federal judge is currently considering potential remedies.

AOL-Netscape filed a lawsuit in January based on the antitrust case that seeks triple damages for the harm Microsoft did to its Navigator business.

The release of Netscape Navigator 6 failed to improve Navigator's market share in the last year, according to WebSideStory. However, antitrust-related moves being undertaken by Microsoft could result in a usage bump for Navigator.

With Windows 2000 Service Pack 3, released in early August, and Windows XP Service Pack 1, which is supposed to be distributed in the next eight days, Microsoft has made it possible for computer makers to hide Internet Explorer and ship systems with AOL-Netscape Navigator or other browsers by default. The change was required by a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice that is still pending before the federal judge in the case.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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