On February 1, 2008, Netscape Navigator will be resting in peace completely, as detailed in “Days dwindle for Netscape Web browser” by the Associated Press.
After the 13-year run of Netscape, within it is its struggle against the browser giant Internet Explorer and the rest of the browsing new-comers, Time Warner Inc.’s America Online or AOL, Netscape’s current owner and keeper, decided to halt further developments of the browser last December 28, 2007. Seeing what is more fitting, the company will instead focus on flourishing more in the advertising business, and the ongoing support for Netscape will be canceled next month.
Netscape fans and web developers will still be able to download and use the Navigator (probably for keepsake or for platform stability of created web pages, respectively) as remnant of the “dying” browser in its virtual household. The administrators recommend downloading and using Firefox in its place, as it is the more popular open source cousin of Netscape.
Netscape director Tom Drapeau posted in his blog last December 28, 2007 that there had been efforts on reviving Netscape Navigator to continue its heritage as the first widely-used web browser, but such efforts weren’t successful in gaining a better share from the pool of web browser’s market.
“AOL’s focus on transitioning to an ad-supported web business leaves little room for the size of investment needed to get the Netscape browser to a point many of its fans expect it to be,” posted Drapeau. “Given AOL’s current business focus and the success the Mozilla Foundation has had in developing critically-acclaimed products, we feel it’s the right time to end development of Netscape branded browsers, hand the reins fully to Mozilla and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox.”
In Commemoration of Netscape
A central figure during the Netscape’s glorious birth in 1994 was Marc Andreessen, cofounder of Netscape Communications Corporation, who developed the first commercial web browser ever: Netscape Navigator, which also stood as its flagship software. It was financed by the recently-departed founder of Silicon Graphics Jim Clark, seeing that it has great commercial potential.
The Big Loss
However, Microsoft noticed the booming success of Netscape, prompting it to release within its flagship Windows operating system its Internet Explorer for free. Suffering from a great loss as users started migrating to Internet Explorer, Netscape eyed the open-source license as a resort for regaining its audience. However, the product named Netscape 5 never saw release because it was deemed to suffer from poor quality.
With a large contribution from the open-source community, the project saw light, transforming into Mozilla and was released as Mozilla 1.0 on June 5, 2002. And with the same code base, standalone applications Firefox and Thunderbird were born, although they suffered from a long-drawn-out development.
With Internet Explorer leading the browser race, Netscape was sold for $10 billion to AOL, which released Netscape 6 based from the open-source Mozilla browser. That alone gave enough reason for people to abandon Netscape and migrate to Internet Explorer.
Sadly, Netscape’s popularity in the market dropped from 19.25 per cent in the first quarter of 2000 to a depressing 0.06 per cent in 2007’s last quarter, according to the tally of Wikipidia from the stats of The Counter. The decreasing popularity and market share Netscape receives are what prompted its closing next month. Seems like we wouldn’t be seeing much from the pioneer of web browser technology anymore.
Farewell, Netscape Navigator.