After Microsoft upped the ante in the browser market in 1996 by integrating Internet Explorer 3.0 into Windows, Netscape began the new year with a ren

1997: Netscape Crossware vs the Windows Web

submited by
Style Pass
2021-08-16 12:00:11

After Microsoft upped the ante in the browser market in 1996 by integrating Internet Explorer 3.0 into Windows, Netscape began the new year with a renewed focus on the open web. Co-founder and CTO Marc Andreessen, along with the Netscape product team, introduced a new strategy called “crossware”:

“Crossware describes on-demand applications that run across networks and operating systems, and are based entirely on open Internet standards like HTML, Java, and JavaScript.”

Since Netscape’s core product was a browser — by now the primary gateway to the Internet — this strategy made perfect sense. The problem was, only one of the three technologies Andreessen mentioned was a certified open standard at the time (HTML). Java was a proprietary programming language controlled by Sun Microsystems, while JavaScript was still owned by Netscape.

To turn JavaScript into an open standard, Netscape approached a European computing standards body called the ECMA in November 1996. By early January 1997, the so-called ECMA Committee #39 released version 0.3 of the proposed standard. Since it couldn’t be called JavaScript (“Java” was a trademark of Sun), the language had been rather awkwardly named ECMAScript. There was little contention, however, between Netscape and Microsoft regarding the core specification. From the introduction to v0.3:

Leave a Comment