By Margie Wylie, Nick Wingfield, and Jai Singh
Staff Writers, CNET NEWS.COM
If you're looking for someone to blame the Web on, Marc Andreessen is your guy.
Wondering why software releases are now weeks rather than months apart? It's a phenomenon called Web Weeks and, yes, it's the chubby, baby-faced 24-year-old multimillionaire's fault. Add it to a long list of ways in which the Web has changed our lives, from Web addresses on billboards to talk of online
addiction. Andreessen will tell you he was just in the right place at the right time when as a college student in Illinois he wrote Mosaic, one of the first graphical Web browsers. Talking to him, you get the feeling that he tripped and accidentally founded Netscape with Silicon Graphics veteran Jim Clark. Don't believe it.
Andreessen has, if only temporarily, conquered the Web. About 85 percent of all browsers in use are made by Netscape. That's gotten the attention of Microsoft, which now plans to build Web browsing into Windows, a move that could destroy Netscape in the consumer market. Andreessen's response? Go after the business market. Andreessen has been exhorting businesses to throw away Lotus Notes and other "closed" business information systems and move to the "open" Web. The intranet is born and the idea of "extranets" are incubating in Andreessen's mind. We'll see just how lucky he is.
NEWS.COM: Are you at all surprised by the kinds of business and cultural changes you have set off through development of Mosaic?
Andreessen: I laugh every time I open the morning newspaper and half the articles are about the Internet or something on the Internet. The San Francisco Examiner recently ran a big article on Stale, this parody of Slate. Here's an article in a newspaper about a Web site. It's like just a totally normal thing these days.
I've been waiting for three years now for the level of interest to crest and it hasn't. I get the feeling increasingly that we're at the very beginning of a very long-term ramp up. This is just the start. And so I think the changes over the next five or ten years are really going to be profound, and we're only starting to see some of them.