Netscape's latest complaint against Microsoft is just part of ongoing legal tussles between the two companies. Netscape has told the US government that Internet Explorer 4.0 is so closely integrated into Memphis, the next version of Windows, that users will be locked in to Microsoft technology whether they like it or not.
At first glance the timing of the complaint seems stunningly belated.
Surely it hasn't taken Netscape all this time to realise Microsoft is going to try and dominate the commerce that goes on over the web. That fact became apparent with the announcement last year of Active Desktop, an environment within Memphis which will allow Internet content providers to deliver streamed multimedia direct to a user's desktop. Of course, the timing of last week's revelation could be a PR stunt, given that Microsoft has just shipped betas of Memphis to thousands of users worldwide.
Netscape has previously complained to the US government about Microsoft's decision to give its browser away free of charge and almost exactly this time last year, letters were flying back and forth between the two companies' legal departments.
It's a sad day when companies have to turn to the arm of the law to seek redress for what they claim is unfair behaviour by one of their competitors.
Users will always want the best tools for the job and vendors should be fighting technology battles, not legal ones.
Netscape is still the leading supplier of browser technology with its Navigator product, which is now a part of the company's Communicator Internet client suite. But by its own admission it has been losing ground to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
If Microsoft has overstepped the mark with its Internet product development policies, it is understandable that Netscape should be outraged and it is right that Microsoft should be reprimanded for it.
Microsoft has always argued that users will buy the products they think are the best for the job in hand and for that it cannot be faulted.
But Microsoft owns leading operating systems, applications and Internet systems. It wields huge influence and power over the industry. Its activity has to be monitored closely by government authorities.
Of course, the US government is in a tricky position - Microsoft is a huge revenue generator. And until now, its investigations have resulted in little more than finger wagging exercises.
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