Internet Explorer Kills Netscape, but Firefox Survives

AOL buries the dead browser

Microsoft's Internet Explorer has killed the Netscape browser. Netscape is a brand virtually synonymous with the World Wide Web going mainstream, but as of February 2007, the browser will be entirely buried. Tom Drapeau, the lead developer for, announced at the end of December 2007 that AOL, the parent company of Netscape Communications Corporation, would discontinue support for the landmark product in the web browsing landscape of solutions. Netscape Communications Corporation was purchased by AOL in 1999. At that time, the browser had already began its open source transition toward Firefox and Mozilla. In fact, the first Mozilla-based, Netscape-branded browser, version 6, was launched in 2000. The Mozilla Foundation was not created until 2003, with AOL putting its back into the initiative.

"While internal groups within AOL have invested a great deal of time and energy in attempting to revive Netscape Navigator, these efforts have not been successful in gaining market share from Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Recently, support for the Netscape browser has been limited to a handful of engineers tasked with creating a skinned version of Firefox with a few extensions", Drapeau revealed, explaining that February 1st, 2008 would mark the end of support for a variety of products, including Navigator 9, Netscape 1-4.x, Netscape 6, Netscape 7 Suite, Netscape Browser 8, and Netscape Navigator/Messenger 9.

Without hesitation, Drapeau pointed the finger at Microsoft and Internet Explorer. Due to the close integration of IE with the dominant operating system Worldwide, Windows, the Redmond company also enjoys a near-monopoly on the browser market. And it was IE' asphyxiation of the market that catalyzed Netscape's death. Drapeau advised all Netscape users to switch to the open source Firefox browser. According to statistics from Net Applications, Netscape 6.0 together with Netscape 7.0 and Netscape 8.0 account for approximately 0.7% of the browser 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. 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 added.

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