Print 30 comment(s) - last by Nik00117.. on Jan 3 at 6:48 AM

AOL kills Netscape Communicator, says use Firefox instead

AOL was one of the first companies to help get people online and one of its largest acquisitions was of Netscape Communications Corporation in 1999.

At one point, Netscape held around 90% of the browser market. Market share numbers show that Netscape currently has a mere 0.60% of the browser market. The industry leader is Microsoft with its Internet Explorer holding 77.35% of the browser market share.

When AOL bought Netscape, the process of converting Netscape Communicator into an open source application called Mozilla had already begun. According to The Netscape Blog, internal teams within AOL have invested time and energy into reviving Netscape Navigator but have been unable to gain any traction. Support for Netscape Navigator was limited within AOL to a “handful” of engineers who were tasked with creating a skinned version of Firefox with a few extensions.

The demise of Netscape Navigator is blamed on AOL’s transition to an ad-supported web business leaving little money for the investment required to get Netscape to the point where it is expected to be by its fans and AOL.

AOL says that support for the current version of Netscape Navigator will end on February 1, 2008 and after that date there will be no active product support. Fans of Netscape communicator are encouraged to download Mozilla Firefox and use the Netscape extensions which will provide the same look and feel Netscape Navigator users are accustomed to. While the Netscape Navigator browser will no longer be supported, the portal will continue to operate.

AOL has gone from one of the most popular Internet service providers at the dawn of the Internet age to a has-been in recent years. In October of 2007 AOL laid off 20% of its workforce in attempts to stave the cash loss from the mass exodus of its subscribers.

AOL was also rocked by scandal in August of 2006 when it released the search histories of 650,000 users without permission -- a mistake many see as one of the first nails in the AOL coffin.

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I hate to say this
By Christopher1 on 12/31/2007 3:45:24 PM , Rating: 1
but does anyone really care about Netscape Navigator anymore? I used it for a little while when I first got into the internet 10 years ago, but after that..... I didn't really use it, I downloaded IE and never went back.

Now, I am onto combined Firefox and IE7 (using IE7 for most of my surfing and Firefox for 'sketchy' sites), and hadn't even looked at Navigator until I saw this article.

RE: I hate to say this
By mindless1 on 12/31/2007 6:36:43 PM , Rating: 1
True, but maybe some AOL users?

I can't pretend to know what the crowd around here uses, by percentage, but here are some stats from the top 8 at one 'site. I suspect Firefox has a higher average on technically oriented 'sites, I do vaguely recall it broke 10% usage a while back.

Internet Explorer 81.5 %
Firefox 7.7 %
Safari 3.5 %
Mozilla 3.3 %
Unknown 1.9 %
Netscape 1.2 %
Konqueror 0.2 %
Opera 0.1 %

RE: I hate to say this
By Hare on 1/1/2008 8:16:17 AM , Rating: 2
Tech oriented sites may affect percentages but there are big differences between continents. Firefox is bigger in Europe. According to French web metrics firm XiTiMonitor Firefox has 45.4% share in Finland. In over 30 European countries FF has over 30%.

RE: I hate to say this
By mindless1 on 1/3/2008 3:42:01 AM , Rating: 2
The prior stats from a site I maintain do receive over 40% access from non-US 'sites during a large percentage (roughly 50%) of the year as the 'site pertains to seasonal content... well I mean it pertains to that except for other content I put on that has a more global appeal, (and no, copyright worrywarts, it's not music or warez).

RE: I hate to say this
By KristopherKubicki on 1/1/2008 10:35:46 AM , Rating: 3
Last month was 62% FF, 32% IE, 3% Opera for DailyTech.

RE: I hate to say this
By Nik00117 on 1/3/2008 6:48:04 AM , Rating: 2
Also have to understand the majority of DT readers are not your typical users at all. The typical user (90%) area most likely hasn't even so much as heard of firefox, and simply uses hotmail for e-mail likes to ebay once and a while and occassional get directions for some place. Maybe do a bit of homework for their essays at school etc. But DT users are not typical users.

RE: I hate to say this
By mindless1 on 1/3/2008 3:38:09 AM , Rating: 2
LOL, it's either incredible or damning to those rating posts that I receive a "0" for providing pure scientific EVIDENCE. Yes let's ignore any evidence. I'm not saying it's equal to worldwide averages, just one point that incredibly people thing a downrating will make less effective truth of one server? WOW the system is flawed!

RE: I hate to say this
By Oregonian2 on 1/2/2008 9:28:27 PM , Rating: 2
To me, Firefox + Thunderbird together are pretty much the next-gen version of Netscape.

By Fnoob on 12/31/2007 3:03:50 PM , Rating: 3
I recall beta-testing Mosaic back in 94-95 and thinking "damn, this is some cool ass sh*t!" When compared to FTP, it was. I just knew these folks would make mad money, and when it transitioned from Mosaic to Netscape, that was clear. WHY I DIDN'T BUY IN AT THEIR IPO OF ~7$ ? Oh yeah, broke college student. Sighs.

RE: Mosaic
By Ringold on 12/31/2007 3:39:22 PM , Rating: 5
Oh yeah, broke college student. Sighs.

I bought GOOG's IPO as a broke high school senior -- work and sacrifice.. a lot of sacrifice. Cool kids had Abercrombie, I had GOOG and WalMart clothes. :P

I still have WalMart clothes, come to think of it... but a lot more stock. They still have Abercrombie, though, so hats off to them, heheh.

RE: Mosaic
By Fnoob on 12/31/2007 4:09:26 PM , Rating: 4
Clearly you were a rare HS student with properly set priorites. However - how much was your high school's quarterly tuition? ;)

RE: Mosaic
By Souka on 12/31/2007 6:00:39 PM , Rating: 1
Netscape 3.04g LIVES FOREVER!!!!!
Netscape 3.04g LIVES FOREVER!!!!!
Netscape 3.04g LIVES FOREVER!!!!!
Netscape 3.04g LIVES FOREVER!!!!!

Good riddence
By Locutus465 on 12/31/2007 4:03:11 PM , Rating: 3
Netscape was really never that great of a browser, even when it was the only game in town. I think this is the right choice, FF is much better than netscape could ever have hoped to be.

RE: Good riddence
By T4RTER S4UCE on 12/31/2007 5:33:40 PM , Rating: 2
A few years ago Navigator switched to the Gecko engine.

RE: Good riddence
By Locutus465 on 1/1/2008 1:12:03 AM , Rating: 2
Still felt heavy compared to Mozilla/FF

RE: Good riddence
By SlyNine on 1/1/2008 7:42:14 AM , Rating: 3
I wonder if AOL saved any money by switching.

RE: Good riddence
By marvdmartian on 1/2/2008 10:19:45 AM , Rating: 2
It was, however, much better than IE for a while, especially as it seemed most virus writers were going after IE vulnerabilities that Netscape didn't have to worry about.

I remember when I first went online in 97, my isp gave me Netscape 2.......on floppy!! Woohoo, man we were sailing back then! Wasn't long before i discovered that they had already come out with version 4, so I spent the $5 and got Communicator on cd. Used that for a couple years, then did the same with communicator 7. To me, that was the last good version, likely because AOHell already had their fingers in the pie, screwing things up.

Sadly, many pages I run across are still optimized for IE. Hard to believe, 10 years after I go online, that website page writers are still doing that, but I guess part of that is explained by the numbers.....and the stupid people that automatically use IE because it comes with windows, and never investigate other possibilities.

By anotherdude on 12/31/2007 3:01:00 PM , Rating: 3
Finally, the plug is pulled.

How long for AOL itself now?

By Schadenfroh on 12/31/2007 3:37:57 PM , Rating: 2
Sell the ISP business to Microsoft to merge with MSN.

By anotherdude on 12/31/2007 4:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing MSN would love the AOL content. Though I have not actually sampled the AOL content for many years.

By eye smite on 1/1/2008 7:43:17 PM , Rating: 2
AOL was a good isp in tne mid 90's, but they turned to absolute garbage just prior to 2000. Opportunistic business people going completely greedy has bad outcomes. I won't miss aol when it's obituary gets published.

By T4RTER S4UCE on 12/31/2007 5:31:10 PM , Rating: 2
I actually like Netscape 9! I think it just has a more classy look than Firefox, I've been using it instead of Firefox for about a year. I guess I'll just keep using it until Firefox 3 is released.

RE: Damn!
By Souka on 12/31/2007 7:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Damn!
By T4RTER S4UCE on 1/1/2008 1:01:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I'm waiting for the full release. Doesn't it have memory leaks? or did they clear that up.

By Flunk on 12/31/2007 8:54:15 PM , Rating: 2
Honestly, what percentage of people didn't already think that Netscape Navigator was discontinued? I bet if you ask your mother/girlfriend/non-techie buddies they probably think of Netscape as an old web browser no one uses anymore.

Good riddance, no need to have both Mozilla and Netscape put out the exact same web browser anyway.

RE: Honestly
By masher2 on 1/1/2008 4:39:51 AM , Rating: 3
> "I bet if you ask your mother/girlfriend/non-techie buddies they probably think of Netscape as an old web browser "

I'll lay dollars to doughnuts your average mother/girlfriend/non-tech buddie has never even heard of Netscape.

Death By Standards
By Inkjammer on 1/1/2008 9:47:47 AM , Rating: 2
Netscape started losing ground because they decided to follow standards. About the time Netscape switched over to the Gecko Engine, IE was in its prime and gaining ground. Lots of websites out there were coded specifically using IE tags, and Netscape had a problems rendering those pages successfully.

To the average consumer, those incompatibilities were a Netscape problem. They didn't realize it was IE not following the W3 development standards. Still, who wanted to use a browser that didn't work with seemingly 1/4th of all sites on the net? Netscape started losing a lot of its userbase as a result.

To this day, Microsoft STILL has problems following open standards in IE. It's a shame.

RE: Death By Standards
By TomZ on 1/1/2008 4:36:28 PM , Rating: 2
Your statement is ironic, since it seems to be completely opposite of the reality:

Because the Netscape browser initially implemented many features not available in other browsers and quickly came to dominate the market, a number of web sites were designed to work, or work fully, only when they detected an appropriate version of Mozilla in the user agent string. Thus, competing browsers began to emulate (cloak or "spoof") this string in order to also work with those sites. The earliest example of this is Internet Explorer's use of a user agent string beginning "Mozilla/<version> (compatible; MSIE <version>...", in order to receive content intended for Netscape, its main rival at the time of its development. This format of user agent string has since been copied by other user agents, and persisted even after Internet Explorer came to dominate the browser market.

Poor AOL
By eye smite on 1/1/2008 12:56:44 PM , Rating: 2
AOL turned to trash long ago with tons of spyware and other garbage. I got off it long ago, but can't get my folks off it. They have high speed now, but the old man loves aol and won't try anything new, so I've limmited him to aol 7.0 with a guarantee that if he puts any higher version on his system and it screws it up, he can have best buy clean it up.......if they can. So there is a point where he listens. AOL train crashing netscape browser is no surpise to me as they did this to internet service for yrs and are paying more and more of the price.

RE: Poor AOL
By theapparition on 1/2/2008 10:34:19 AM , Rating: 2
AOL is going the same route as Compuserve and Prodigy. Soon, the only reminder that they ever existed will be the leftover discs buried in landfills across the continent.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
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