Restoring competition to the browser market
Thursday, July 12, 2001 by Dave Winer.
Here's a revised proposal to restore competition to the Web browser market.
Management of BrowserCo will either find a business model, or be subject to fierce competition, or the industry will have moved on and HTML browsing will no longer be considered a key technology. No matter what, the lack of a competitive environment in browsers will have been alleviated.
- Remove the browser from Microsoft, creating an independent company, call it BrowserCo.
- After the split, Microsoft would not be allowed to make a Web browser, for five years, and then only if a competitive market has developed, and then only under restrictive conditions that make sure that a competitive market continues.
- Microsoft may, if they choose to, add APIs to Windows to allow the HTML rendering engine to be a plug-in. The user would be offered a choice of browsers, none of which would be pre-installed with Windows. The BrowserCo browser would be on the list, but it could not be the first choice.
- The settlement would include enough cash to fund expanded development of the browser for five years, assuming no revenue from software sales.
- BrowserCo would be free to merge with or acquire other companies at any time.
BrowserCo is free to compete with Windows or Office, something that the Microsoft-owned browser clearly can't do. This is necessary because the Web has been crippled by Microsoft's insistence that these old products be preserved, contrary to Microsoft's claim that they are the source of innovation.
This remedy would put in place a template for future remedies if Microsoft or others act illegally to destroy competitive markets. If you compete illegaly, you lose the product and a lot of cash, and create a strong competitor. This would force temperence and respect for competition, one way or the other you're going have to deal with it.
Let's have no more monopolies in software, we've seen how awful they are, let's fix the problems caused by the latest round of monopolization, and get a structural fix in place to make it less likely in the future.