WilliamK wrote:When Internet Explorer was bundled with Windows for free, people were happy to pay $60 for Netscape Navigator
Holy bad analogy, Batman.
Before Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator had a near-monopoly with control of the vast majority of the web browser market place. It was to the point that when Microsoft started to beta test what became Internet Explorer, they had to spoof some elements of the NN user agent string just so that webpages designed for NN, which was most of them, would display. At that time, NN could charge $60 for their software and get away with it because no free alternatives were available.
When Internet Explorer started being bundled with Windows for free, it completely destroyed Netscape Navigator. Netscape went from owning almost all of the browser market to crashing almost overnight to a marketshare of less than 1%.
By the time the courts ruled that Microsoft acted anti-competitively by using its operating system monopoly to create a web browser monopoly, Netscape wasn't even around anymore to gloat or try to recover.
The last few versions of NN were essentially just reskinned versions of Firefox on delay, propped up by AOL buying the company, and eventually the Netscape name and logo transitioned from being associated with a browser (Which had stopped being made- they stopprd charging the $60 and the later versions had been free, but it waited too long to stop charging- by the end nobody cared and were on to other free browsers) to simply being the name of a "portal" website that was basically the AOL homepage with all the same articles and such, but with Netscape logo in the background. If you to the Netscape Navigator homepage today, its just a redirect to AOL's homepage. Not even a Netscape branded page anymore, it literally just forwards you automatically to AOL.
I actually have some nice mental associations with Netscape, I am typing this right now from Firefox for Android, with a persona add-on that puts the Netscape logo in the browser's upperright hand corner.
However, warm associations or no, there was no way I was paying for a browser when Internet Explorer was free. 99% of the rest of the market agreed. From that point, offering a free no-charge download was table stakes. Firefox was free and got marketshare. So was Chrome. I think Opera tried ads for a while, but gor pilloried for it and was only used by a very small minority of users.
Truth is, you would have to be *a lot* better than everything else to charge when all your competition is free. Its hard to create something with that much innate superiority in a commodized industry- all browsers are mechanisms for displaying the same pages on your computer or smartphone. These days, they all have tabs. Most have ad-blockers and other add-ons available.
Let's just say hypothetically that Pale Moon discovers the next big thing and is that much better than the rest that people pay for it eventually, though. Even if they did, because its open source, someone would fork it immediately and offer it with a different name and logo for free, and people would switch to that.
And that's as it should be. Pale Moon could hardly complain given that it is itself a fork of Firefox.
Beyond that, a lot of people use these browsers and open-source software to opt-out of advertisements and subscription services and stuff. Firefox in some ways is the house that Ad-Block Plus built. One of the top complaints about Firefox today is that they perodically announce that they are doinf sponsored stories or squares on the new tab page, and everytime they do, the outrage is intense and they have to back off before the ads make it to the regular stable version of the browser.
Top complaint about Windows 10? Ads, even though you can go the setup menu and such and turn them all off so you never see another ad on that machine again (Barring reinstalling the OS or Microsoft changing its policies eventually).