RealTime IT News

Netscape Browser Finally Officially Dead

After nearly 14 years of life, the Netscape browser will soon be taken off life support.

AOL which acquired Netscape in a stellar $4.2 billion deal in 1998 quietly announced the browser's demise -- scheduled for Feb. 1 -- in a blog posting today.

"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," wrote AOL/Netscape development director Tom 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."

Drapeau said while internal groups within AOL invested time and energy in attempting to revive Netscape Navigator (as versions of the product had often been named,) they ultimately had not been successful in taking share.

Though the Netscape name will no longer adorn a browser, the brand will not die out entirely.

"While we will no longer support the Netscape Web browser as of Feb. 1, 2008, Netscape.com will still continue to serve as a general-use Internet portal," Drapeau wrote.

Back in 1998, Netscape spun-out the core of the Netscape code base into what became the open source Mozilla project, in which it participated heavily. Within a year of the acquisition, there were questions as to whether the Mozilla.org effort would survive within AOL.

In 2003, however, the Mozilla Foundation officially separated from Netscape and AOL with its former parent providing a $2 million dollar parting gift to the foundation.

The Mozilla spin-off and ultimately, perhaps the fate of Netscape itself, came as a result of Microsoft's $750 million legal settlement in 2003 with AOL over antitrust issues.

Netscape had been based on Mozilla code since Netscape version 6 appeared in 2000. The last Netscape browser, Netscape Navigator 9, made its debut earlier this year.