Before the news of Facebook buying Instagram trumped just about everything yesterday, the other big deal of the day involved Microsoft and AOL, two (older) companies whose greatest successes seemed to have come and gone with the ‘90s. AOL licensed and sold a portfolio of patents to Microsoft for $1 billion, a move AOL CEO Tim Armstrong called “a critical milestone in [the company’s] growth trajectory.” Or in other words: a much-needed cash injection since no one uses AOL dial-up disks anymore.
Coincidentally, the patent portfolio included Netscape Navigator, the long-forgotten browser that once competed with Internet Explorer for market supremacy. In fact, Microsoft now owns the very product at the center of its anti-trust case in the late 1990s. At the time, Microsoft was ruled a monopoly for packaging IE with its operating systems, giving the browser an unfair advantage over competitors such as Navigator.
Obviously, Microsoft won the war.