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Korea’s Internet is Microsoft-Dependent

Posted January. 05, 2006 03:00,   


Yoon Seok-chan, leader of the development team at Daum, said, “Although the Internet is a public good, Korea’s Internet environment is increasingly encouraging monopolies by private companies. Against this backdrop, Daum has decided to jointly develop technologies with Apple.”

Most Korean Internet homepages have been made based on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer software. Although a redundant investment will be inevitable, such as overhauling existing portal sites to develop homepages according to the new standard, Daum believes that it will be beneficial in the long term.

Korea’s Strange Internet Environment-

Korea’s Internet environment is built according to Internet Explorer standards, rather than to the international standard, because most netizens use the Microsoft browser.

According to Naver, the country’s largest portal site, more than 98 percent of its users were using Internet Explorer (IE) as of late last year. However, OneStat, a Dutch web monitoring company, said that almost 20 percent of Internet users in the U.S. and Western Europe are not using IE. More than 15 percent of Internet users in the world are also using software other than IE when using the Internet.

This means that Korea’s dependency on Microsoft is uniquely high. Experts say that this is because functions, such as Internet banking, the online issuance of civil affairs documents, and online games, are not conducted on web browsers other than IE.

Kim Jeong-hyeon, vice president of Apple Korea, said, “When Microsoft announced last year that it would end support for Windows 98, the Korean government had to visit Microsoft’s headquarters and beg for continued support,” criticizing, “If we ignore users of other software, the monopolistic influence and arrogance of Microsoft in the Korean market will be aggravated.”

The government is also aware of the problem. Last June, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs decided to include “web standardization” in its assessment criteria regarding public organization homepages. That was a measure aimed to make public services, such as the online issuance of civil affairs documents, possible without having to use a certain company’s software.

Cracking Microsoft’s Monopoly-

The Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox browser is the most popular web browser in the world apart from IE. The Wall Street Journal assessed that the program is “better than Explorer.”

Firefox’s market share soared from 2.1 percent in May 2004 to 11.5 percent in last November. Most well known websites, including Google and Yahoo, have been standardized to support both Firefox and IE.

With its monopoly being shaken, Microsoft has become nervous. Last year, the software giant suddenly began developing IE Version 7, a follow-up program to IE Version 6 which has not been greatly improved since 2001.

In Korea, portal sites, such as Naver and Yahoo Korea, are attempting partial standardization.

Yoon said, “Korean Internet companies’ failure to observe the standard incurs redundant expenses for overhauling services whenever they enter the overseas market,” adding, “Microsoft’s monopoly is bound to be shaken, so it is time to prepare for standardization.”

Sang-Hoon Kim sanhkim@donga.com