From time to time there's the occasional question from people that think that I'm really smart and ask me about advice on which programming language they should learn to ensure they have a good career ahead. Of course, I try always to answer these questions instead of focusing on the real question, which is why they think I'm so smart when in fact I am not.
See, in the beginning of the web, there was only one browser. It was called Mosaic, and did not had any scripting capabilities. You could not do any client side programming in web pages. Period. If you wanted your web pages to change, you had to write some server code. Usually using something called CGI and a language that was able to read/write to standard input/output. But let's not disgress.
That of course ringed a lot of bells at Microsoft. They saw the internet and the browser as a threat to their Windows desktop monopoly and Microsoft, being the smart people they are, set out to counter that threat. The result was Internet Explorer.
Internet Explorer was Microsoft's vision of a web browser integrated in Windows. It was faster than Netscape's Navigator. It was more stable. It crashed less. It came already installed with Windows, so you did not have to download anything to start browsing the web. Regardless of the anti-monopoly lawsuits arising from how Microsoft pushed Internet Explorer in the market, the truth was the Internet Explorer was a better browser than Netscape's Navigator in almost any dimension And I say almost because I'm sure someone can remember something where Navigator was better, but I sincerely can't.
Internet Explorer practically crushed Navigator out of the browser market, leaving it with 20% or so of their previous 99% market share. It was normal at the time for web developers to place "works best with Internet Explorer" stickers on their pages, or even directly refuse to to load a page with any other browser than Explorer and pop up a message asking you to use Explorer to view their pages. Microsoft was close to realizing their dreams of controlling the web and keeping their Windows desktop monopoly untouched.
And then came Mozilla. And then came the iPhone. Which are other stories, and very interesting by themselves, but not the point of this post...