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Microsoft comes full circle with IE

Marc Marshall brings up the excellent point that Microsoft has come full circle with regard to Internet Explorer. His is the last post in Macintouch’s Browser Future report for today:

The bottom line in this situation is this: For the past several years, Microsoft gave away a free browser to kill the competition, and succeeded. Now, they have stopped development of their standalone product, and are giving people exactly three choices to get their “standard” product: 1) Buy Windows. 2) Use MSN for Internet access. 3) Pay them $10/month or $80 per year. No free options, no free upgrades.

The price is higher than Opera or Omni’s paid competition, and you don’t have a free option, and you have an ongoing fee. In fact, if MS starts charging annual licensing for Windows, there will be no lifetime-licence-purchasable version of IE. This sounds like exactly the sort of consumer hostile situation that monopolies create, and governments are supposed to protect us from.
Now that they’ve pretty much saturated the market, Microsoft has been scrambling on how to consistently generate revenue. They have long discussed subscription software licensing, and this situation with IE appears to be the first shot across the bow. Unfortunately, I do not forsee the mass sheep of Windows and IE/Mac users torpedoing the Microsoft Bismarck any time soon.