That seems a little one-sided. As I remember it, the biggest battle in the browser war of that generation was probably IE4 against Netscape 4
I'd put it a little earlier IE 3 vs. Netscape 3. IE 4 vs. Netscape 4, Netscape had already lost. The Mosaic era stuff had died out by IE 2. As far as Websites being more serious for communication that had already happened by the IE3 era. ActiveX was when web applications became more serious. As for standards... there was no serious push towards standards until years later. W3C as a formal organization doesn't even exist until the tail end of the browser wars, though there are a lot of European companies getting involved in the idea of web standards as early as 1994. Developing for IE and Netscape wasn't that hard. Java, Flash, ActiveX are all standards for web applications.
They happen all within 5 years of one another but they aren't sequenced the way you have them.
Microsoft came in for increasing criticism over their embrace-and-extend strategy in the face of those standards.
Yes and no. Embrace-extend-extinguish is more a charge by the workstation guys. The internet is a "unix thing" and Microsoft is focusing on not internet networking technologies. So in some sense it is earlier. Its just as a much a play in things like the spreadsheets and Lotus was getting replaced by Excel, or more importantly hardware standards for other desktop platforms. When it hits the web, it is from Microsoft creating a defacto browser standard which is not OS/platform independent. So again overlapping and certainly the web is an important example but I'd disagree with the causation you have here. The attacks start before anyone really cares much about http/web and continue being about many issues.
There is also the small issue that those three sources represent close to 100% of preinstalled, default browsers today.
Absolutely. Firefox was able to thrive over IE only when it was much better than IE. People deliberately switched from IE to Firefox. The same way that people who had IE 2 installed bought Netscape 3. I'm writing to you on my Mac / Safari. My question is not "which is the best browser in Nov 2015" but rather "are any of the browsers better enough than Safari to be worth switching?". That's a harder battle for Firefox to win. They can't do deep OS integration.
If Mozilla team can get Servo out the door quickly they may have something far better.
I find it hard to imagine that Google, Microsoft or Apple with the dominance that Firefox once had would not have made XUL based applications standard. In Gecko/XUL they had the same kind of stack as KHTML/Cocoa Webcore and chance to have invented WebKit. They didn't and as a result Apple and Google picked up Webkit.... They deserve blame for not having utilized the opportunity when they had it. OTOH I think they were overwhelmed by the complexity of keeping up as the web exploded in the age of Firefox dominance. As I said, not able to play at that level.
It's somewhat ironic that just as Microsoft have been paying a bit more respect to web standards with IE10-11, both Google and Apple have overly shunned them.
They are in the same boat now as IE was. What does it mean to be a "standard" that Webkit doesn't follow?
I think that was a huge strategic mistake that will probably lead to the collapse of their business within the next 3-5 years unless something dramatic happens to their product line.
Their business collapsed a long time ago as Firefox was being born. Mozilla was the open source core of Netscape. They failed to advance fast enough and the open source product was the living fragment of Netscape. Then AOL funded them for 5 years to maintain an alternative to IE. Once there were other alternatives... They don't really have a business now.