Microsoft is to pay browser maker Spyglass $8 million to settle the companies' royalties dispute. The one-off payment will make Spyglass' second quarter earnings "significantly brighter" than those in its first, which it claimed were hit by under-payment of fees for technology Microsoft licenses.
In its first quarter, Spyglass reported a loss of $1.5 million, or 12 cents a share, reversing profits of seven cents last year. Revenues also fell, the company announced yesterday, from $4.8 million to $3.9 million.
Spyglass had demanded the right to examine Microsoft's books to check the number of copies of Internet Explorer, which contains Spyglass technology, the giant had distributed. However, the argument is now settled, with Microsoft paying its partner $7.5 million in cash and $500,000 in software and maintenance, to cover current owings and all future royalties.
The companies also extended their development alliance. They will cooperate on multimedia standards such as HTML for televisions and other devices and Spyglass will port its Infrastructure Server to NT and its Microserver to Windows CE.
Meanwhile, the original home of the browser is bowing out of further development. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications NCSA) at the University of Illinois, creator of the Mosaic technology which at the heart of many browsers including Spyglass, said it lacks the resources to compete with commercial rivals such as Netscape.
The last version of Windows Mosaic was released on 17 January and the NCSA will now focus its research and development on collaborative environments, search and retrieval technology and Java tools. NCSA has always focused on the scientific rather than the commercial community but its browser work involved students such as Mark Andreessen, now chief technical officer at Netscape, and directly spawned that company and Spyglass. Seven per cent of Spyglass' licensing revenue goes back to the NCSA.
"Once there is commercial development, we can't and don't want to compete," commented Jae Allen, programme manager at the NCSA.
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