THE FIRST WEB WAR

IN THE BATTLE OF THE BROWSERS, GIANT MICROSOFT IS RELENTLESSLY NARROWING THE LEAD OF SMALLER NETSCAPE

The great American marketplace produces certain legendary commercial rivalries: Coke vs. Pepsi, Leno vs. Letterman, Republicans vs. Democrats. Now we welcome the first digital-age combatants: Netscape and Microsoft, the David and Goliath of the Internet.

They aren't dueling over peanuts: enormous fortunes await those whose software guides consumers through the cornucopia of goods and services that will comprise tomorrow's World Wide Web. Netscape founder Jim Clark realized this first, and his company released the initial--and now dominant--mainstream Web browser back in October '94. Today it enjoys a $3.5 billion market capitalization despite sales of just $80 million in 1995. Bill Gates...

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