Netscape didn't die because they charged for it. They stopped charging once IE went free, but they still couldn't keep up because Netscape 4 was crap compared to IE4. Ever since IE4, there was nothing else that was remotely as good. That's how IE6 ended up on top, because everything else was crap. IE6 stagnated because there wasn't any competition, it took FireFox years to kind of catch up and become a viable option because it used tons of memory back when a system with 256MB of RAM was a lot, and a good IE shell could have multiple tabs open with 10-15MB of RAM usage.
Google is pushing Webkit, and Chrome in particular because they want to dominate the web - just like Microsoft wanted to. Everything they're doing with Chrome is exactly the same, and once they hit the same kind of marketshare they'll sit on their laurels, because there's no more reason for them to innovate.
First of all.. this right here shows that you are uninformed or too young to remember/know.
Only when Microsoft was legally pushed by DOJ and others to stop with monopoly other browsers started getting a fair share of spotlight.
It had very little to do with the "quality" of other browsers.
Second, Google is pushing Webkit because it's an open source HTML rendering engine. Google doesn't own webkit and they dominate the web because their browser is hands down the best browser, and it's not the only webkit browser. They are not forcing the browser on anyone. They are NOTHING like MIcrosoft. Google invests in open source technologies because they want web to be open, unchained from proprietary garbage because they know that if there's a fair competition they will win out due to quality products and by killling proprietary dependencies they can offer advertising more freely. Yes, they want to sell advertising. Nothing wrong with that and if they push everything proprietary the whole web and market is better off because products and services will compete on quality and not proprietary chains and monopoly and unlike with Microsoft ANYONE can make better product than Google and compete on the same webkit base or anything that's open source because they are not blackmailed by anyone with licensing fees or platform holder. This is why they bought and invested and opened the WebM and VP8 video codec. Because they wanted to get rid of the proprietary h.264 format and offer something that is truly free and open source and where NOONE will have to pay licensing to anyone to use video and audio on the web.
The beauty of open source is that it's not dictated by Google. It's dictated by everyone who contributes to it. So if Google stops innovating with Chrome, Webkit will continue evolving and innovating because it's not owned by Google and someone else will rise up as the next best webkit browser because they continue innovating . That's what open source allows them. How can you not get that? Some of you can't really understand, or are unwilling to understand that there's a HUGE difference between Microsoft and proprietary software and something that is completely open and not owned by anyone. Webkit has nothing to do with Google. They just contribute to it just like everyone else.
Microsoft OWNS IE. It's completely proprietary This means that if Microsoft drops the ball again, you have ZERO choices. You are stuck with garbage like we were with IE6. Not to mention that it's not cross platform, it's tied completely to Windows and furthermore Microsoft wants to have developers build apps and everything for IE10 for Metro and desktop that will tie into WinRT with more proprietary hooks and IE exclusive crap that won't work anywhere else BUT on IE for Metro/Windows.
It's absolutely not the same as you claim. Stop trying to justify Microsoft because what you are claiming makes zero sense.