The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is determining whether to launch a new antitrust investigation of Microsoft Corporation based on allegations that the company attempted to divide the Internet software market between itself and Netscape Communications three years ago. At the time, Netscape's Navigator Web browser had over 90% of the market and Microsoft allegedly met with Netscape to discuss its plans for releasing Internet Explorer. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft asked Netscape if it would agree to focus only on non-Windows operating systems so that Microsoft could control the way Windows users access the Web. On Friday, a Microsoft spokesperson denied these allegations.
"I can categorically say that we did not at any time suggest dividing up any market, period," Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray said.
Netscape, however, is saying that Microsoft did try to collaborate with them at that time and that Microsoft suggested investing in Netscape as well. Netscape wasn't interested in Microsoft's help, however. Netscape VP Marc Andreessen said that being visited by Microsoft was akin to a visit from the Godfather (as in Mario Puzo's movie and book).
"It was like a visit by Don Corleone," Andreessen said. "I expected to find a bloody computer monitor in my bed the next day."
Microsoft, however, doesn't appreciate the comparison.
"Netscape's description of this meeting gets more distorted and more fictional every day," said Murray.
Microsoft officials present at the meeting that day also remember it going differently, saying that it was Netscape who suggested the investment. Microsoft, the officials say, was trying to license Navigator for inclusion in Windows 95