Battle stations! This industry is up for grabs as never before, with Web mania fueling the ceaseless demand for new programs

Software was once an orderly affair in which a few players called most of the shots. The industry had almost gotten used to letting Microsoft Corp. set the agenda in personal computing. But as the Internet ballooned into a $1 billion software business in 1996, huge new territories came up for grabs. Microsoft enters the new year in a strong position to reassert control. But it will have to fight off Netscape, IBM, Oracle, and dozens of startups that are desperately staking out turf on the Net. "Everyone is racing to find market space and get established," says David Readerman, software analyst at Montgomery Securities in San Francisco.

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