Netscape Navigator Goes Quietly Into the Night

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On New Year’s Eve, the news went out from AOL that the long life of the Netscape Browser was coming to an end.

Netscape logo

The End of Support announcement was respectful of the browser’s long history—longer than any other browser still in general use—as it acknowledged that it was time to call it quits:

“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.”

It’s interesting that the announcement names Internet Explorer as Netscape’s chief rival. While this was true once upon a time, it seems to me Netscape might have been more successful—if only marginally so—if it had focused on marketing to Firefox users, perhaps even getting Firefox users to recommend it to their less tech-savvy friends and family.

In any case, active development of Netscape Navigator has now ceased, and security fixes will not be issued after February 1st.

Though this news will have little or no impact on the vast majority of web developers, those of us for whom Netscape was their first browser will give a wistful sigh of rememberance. Still, no browser could hope for a better legacy than that currently being forged by the Mozilla Foundation with Firefox.

Vale Netscape.

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  • NathanielB

    I hardly ever used the browser on free-will; at school we had to use it though I remember since it was the only browser available to us via the Novell client.

    With that said though, it’s still sad to see it go. Farewell =(.

  • Nate

    I started with Netscape, and loved it. Oddly, I’m unaffected by this news because in my mind Mozilla, and later Firefox, were the continuation of Netscape Navigator – and the newer Netscape Navigator was an impostor.
    Maybe Netscape would have done better if AOL hadn’t switched to using IE’s rendering engine in the AOL browser immediately after acquiring Netscape? It was always AOL’s “redheaded stepchild”, and I’m surprised it lasted this long. Still, it’s a shame to lose any diversity…

  • http://www.twice21.com ParkinT

    Nate, you echoed my sentiments.
    It is embarrassing now to admit it; but I actually PURCHASED a copy of Netscape way, way, way back when (before it was free).
    AOL seems to have an anti-Midas touch with everything!

  • madr

    Netscape did an necessary sacrifice to create the gecko engine. Navigator, RIP.

  • http://www.webglossary.co.uk blueclock

    I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go, it felt unnecessary once Firfox gained a decent market share.

    Do you think that the 1st of February withdrawal date might coincide with the release of firefox 3?

  • BacH

    I remember my first experience with the World Wide Web was through Navigator’s portal, in a lab at the local university on a Mac PPC 7100/70. I can still see the dithered gif animation of the comet swooping around the “N” and Yahoo’s logo rendering in progressive sweeps against that gray background… *sigh* Sad to see a bit of history go, but as has been said, Gecko lives on.

  • The Internet Explorer Development Team

    Let’s just make sure Firefox does not suffer the same fate as Netscape…

    I mean it’s not like we REALLY use our own product…

  • Jim N Sequim

    I have used Netscape off & on over the years as an alternative to IE, but have rarely used it since FireFox,Flock,SeaMonkey,Opera and several others became available, AND particularly since AOL got their mits on it. AOL seems to have a way of messing up and with stuff that makes anything associated with them aggravating to anyone who knows better (IE: has used anything else)

  • Archie

    sad to see it go .. yeah it was a piece of crap, but aw heck, it was the best damn piece of crap since Gopher .. oh the memories of the blue pulsing N of Netscape 1.0 .. back before the advent of the tag

  • barleytwist

    Is there a general browser “rationalisation” under way and that Opera will go the same way? Opera does not have a great market share by all accounts. I notice that Firefox has plugin for Lynx so maybe Lynx is redundant.

  • Brian

    As the IE Team say, I too hope FireFox stays.

    Let’s not forget one important thing: if it hadn’t been for NS there wouldn’t have been IE, Opera, FireFox etc. They ALL use Gecko in some way.

    DAMN YOU AOL!!

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ ceeb

    It’s a shame to see the browser end, but Netscape died many years ago. Unfortunately, my memories will always be tarnished by cross-browser development for NS4 – which couldn’t render tables correctly, let alone CSS. IE5/6/7 development is a doddle in comparison!

  • a developer

    Thank goodness it’s gone. Not that it had any effect on me anyway. Now, I’m no lover of Micro$oft, but let’s face it, as a commercial web developer, I think it’s safe to say that all browsers are crap… yes, Firefox, too. It’s nice to see the worst of them gone. Now if the rest of them could start working from the same page, we developers could get a lot more work done. Contrary to Nate’s comment, sometimes diversity is a pain in the ***. Hoping to see Opera follow NS (and IE for Mac) soon.

    That being said, props to NS for getting it all started. Condolences.

  • Anonymous

    It’s surprising that they’re still talking about Netscape. AOL when it purchased Netscape displayed very little interest in the browser because they were still cozying up with Microsoft. Many thanks to the Mozilla Foundation for bringing us the superb Firefox. Though I’m a Safari user, I’m glad that there is some serious competition to give Internet Explorer the run for the money.

  • Anonymous

    Guess that ole computer error haiku has come true:

    The ten thousand things,
    How long do any persist?
    Netscape, too, has gone.

  • Angela Liew

    I still use old Netscape for my assignments(forgot which version as I am now back to my hometown and the pc is at my university area) as the old VR program: Cosmo World 93(which doesn’t release any new versions) doesn’t support IE or Firefox. Other than that, I rarely use it since there are better browsers.

    I use Opera too n frankly other than a few things, I’m fond of Opera. Since Opera doesn’t have much market share atm(around 3%?), I certainly hope Opera doesn’t share the same fate as Netscape.

  • ThePengwin

    In my mind, Netscape was the birth of the internet as we now know it.

    Goodnight, Sweet prince.

  • pennywit

    Is Lynx still out there somewhere? I fondly remember it as my first Web browser.

  • schlub

    Good riddance. I started off using Mosaic and was an avid supporter of Netscape (although I never paid for it) until AOL took it over and so I switched to IE.
    This is also corresponded to my haitus from web development so I didn’t see any point in using anything but the default installed browser.
    Now I’m back in web development I am hoping that Opera and Safari go the way of the dodo and leave us with just two browsers. Cross-browser compatibility is a b*tch at the best of times and we need a unified UI – definitely NOT more diversity.

  • bloodofeve

    I’m sad to see it go, I have used it as a test system as well as the usual browsers for all my web projects. I always found it an excellent product especially in the early days.

    The only thing now is how the hell do I do my web masters degree course work as they use Netscape as their course work browser.

  • PAA

    I guess I’m on the outside of everyone else. I’ve always liked using Netscape and am still using the Netscape.net mail link. With Netscape gone does that mean my mail will be as well? I’ve fought with IE too much on things that Netscape could do. Like another person further up, when checking out your web work, you’ve got to have more than one browser to see how it works in it. It’s really easy to tell on some websites that the webmaster hasn’t bother to do this, especially if you are a Netscape or even Firefox user because the coding is left open often times. So while most of you are saving a happy farewell to her, I have a tear coming down my cheek because I will miss her dearly.

  • IE, Safari, & FF Only!

    Out with the old, and in with the new! Now if we could only get rid of those other “poser” type browsers out there, then things will be better off.

  • http://www.codeyoursite.com MaidenRockDan

    THANK GOD!

    Netscrape
    Internet Exploder

    Two browsers whose time has long since gone by.

  • http://www.t94xr.net.nz/ t94xr

    @ParkinT
    Yeah it was the opensource movement that made them make it free, they realised that they could get a bigger market share if they actually gave it away free and provided support and they make money on other things.

    The Start of the end for Netscape was the case against Microsoft back in the day, Netscape took a majorly fatal hit, basically its only survived by loyal developers. but then again i remember a couple of years ago AOL did fire almost every one of their netscape devs (who were promptly intergrated into the firefox movement!)

    lol

  • deaconmpg

    good times, good times, fond memories running the Navigator across the internet waters. She always was a pretty browser then IE and you never had the feeling of the Microsoft slime after you were done. And the logo was very nice, comets whizzing in the upper right.

    Good Night Navigator :)

  • Anonymous

    Oddly, if people would tat the time to do the research, they’d find that NN 9.0.0.5 is the most mature, sophisticated and stable implementation of Gecko to date! I plan on using Navigator for the foreseeable future as my default browser: IT”S THAT GOOD!

  • Anonymous

    Oddly, if people would take the time to do the research, they’d find that NN 9.0.0.5 is the most mature, sophisticated and stable implementation of Gecko to date! I plan on using Navigator for the foreseeable future as my default browser: IT”S THAT GOOD!