Goodbye Netscape…


…or the King is dead, long live the King!

Netscape CommunicatorBrowsing over the latest news at the BBC web site I came across this message. And so I was reading that the browser that helped kick-start the commercial web is to cease development because of lack of users. The browser in question is of course the good ol’ Netscape, which commanded once over 90% of market share.

But Netscape will live on as it did during the last few years already in form of the Mozilla Firefox browser which is based on the original source code of Netscape which AOL, the owners of Netscape open sourced in 2003. Even the name itself isn’t something which will disappear that fast - at least for the ones writing and browsing the current code of Mozilla.

Nevertheless for me there was a special kind of satisfaction when the latest Netscape version was released. At last there was a certification authority which issues free certification in the legendary browser, after in the 90’s Verisign and Netscape shaped and controlled cryptography matters of the web. Since the current and apparently last release of the Netscape Communicator is based on the Mozilla code, the StartCom CA is by default supported. Even so today this browser only controls some 0.6 % of market share, this occasion had a sweet taste ;-)

AOL suggests to use the Firefox browser in the future which is still developed by some of the original Netscape employees in addition to many, many volunteers and Mozilla employees. Netscape will not die, because of the fact that the Netscape code was open sourced and the Mozilla Foundation took control of this code. Firefox is the natural continuation of the legendary browser which was originally first developed by Marc Andreessen, co-author of Mosaic, who at the time was a student at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois in 1992. After graduation he set up Netscape Communications Corporation and began development of the Navigator browser. The first version was released in 1994.

Mozilla Firefox BrowserAnd so my farewell to the Netscape browser which I happened to use the first time on a Windows 95. Later Netscape was the default browser on my first Red Hat Linux - it must have been version 4.7. Firebird replaced Netscape in 2003 which was soon renamed to Firefox. When the first StartCom Linux distribution debuted (which is based on Red Hat after all), the Firefox browser pre 1.0 version came already installed by default. And so the legend lives on in form of the Mozilla browser.

Netscape is dead, long live Firefox!

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Reader Comments

I was a Netscape user since Netscape 2.0 back on Windows 3.1 when I had to use Trumpt Winsock to initiate a session over a shell account using a SLIP emulator (called “slirp”). I remember the marked stability improvement of Netscape 3.0.

I was a loyal user until the v4.8 releases when they all but stopped development (the last version I used was v4.89). I went to IE for a brief period, because frankly, a lot of web sites wouldn’t work properly anymore under that version of Netscape. After I discovered Mozilla, I switched to that. When I heard about Phoenix (version 0.3 at the time), I tested it but it was a bit too unstable. I switched permanently when it hit 0.7 (then called Firebird) because that’s when it became stable enough to use on a permanent basis. I went through the second rename to FireFox and have been using FireFox ever since.

The King is dead, long live the King!

Netscape had a lot of features, and probably still does. Also, wasn’t it something else in the very, very beginning? I forget the name.

I just went over to Synaptic (I run Linux Mint Daryna), and noticed that it no longer exists in the archives for down load.

Apple / MAC took Konqueror, and made it into Safari. Konqueror is, of course, open source, and a free download.

Oh, those glory days! You made me think about them with your post about Netscape.

JJMacey
Phoenix, Arizona

Before “Firebird” at the very beginning the Mozilla browser was called “Phoenix”. Indeed it has risen from the ashes of Netscape in form of Firefox ;-)
And of course there was the Mozilla Suite which is “Seamonkey” today.

Yeah i had my good memories with netscape years ago. I still remember using the composer when ms frontpage was just called “Frontpage Express”. Netscape will always have the special place in our hearts. But hey, the spirit lives on in Mozilla’s Firefox and Seamonkey.

“And so at last the beast fell and the unbelievers rejoiced. But all was not lost, for from the ash rose a great bird.The bird gazed down upon the unbelievers and cast fire and thunder upon them. For the beast had been
reborn with its strength renewed, and the followers of Mammon cowered in horror.”

from The Book of Mozilla, 7:15

Please don’t say Netscape is dead.
It is re incarnated in the name and form of Firefox.

I, too, began using netscape back in the days of 3.1 and doing a tech dance to get it running. The fact that the poster above even remembers the dance steps I find amazing. I also gave up on Netscape for a while, when it became horribly bloated and zoomed up to crazy MB sizes (maybe, like 80 MBor something?). I switched to Opera, though and was fairly happy there until they fell so heavily on the proprietary side 9yes, they were always proppy, but they also battled against the big boys on their own turf, the problem for me came when it was clear that they could switch and make a difference that way, but didn’t have the vision to manage it). So, in the end, it was the open sourcing of Netscape that will be its savior, and the proppy nature of Opera that will kill it.

But, after all that, I still have my “@netscape.net” e-mail account (which i love to use just to gall AOL who want me to drop it, probably not many people still use the domain) and still have a “my netscape” page (now renamed “propeller” and completely revamped but it seems pretty much certain to disappear soon, perhaps along with the browser.

Anyway, for old times sake i’m gonna go dl netscape, and burn it onto CD, maybe frame it and hold it as a collectible.

hmmmm

I switched from Netscape to Firebird, and have been a loyal user ever since. My windows installations have only the barest of Internet Explorer, solely for temporary usage for the few sites that are broken in Firefox.

I’m very happy that Mozilla has taken such a large market share from Microsoft, as Netscape one did. Hopefully, eventually, Microsoft will eventually discontinue the installation of Internet Explorer by default, and make it an addon. Vista took the first step in making updates handled through a different program.