AOL Axes Netscape

Dennis Faas's picture

Although it has held on for a long time, the Netscape browser will pass into the great digital afterlife early this year. Tom Drapeau, Netscape's Director, announced in a blog post that AOL will discontinue product support for Netscape Navigator on February 1, 2008. After that Drapeau recommends Navigator users switch over to Mozilla Firefox, the popular open-source web browser on which Netscape is based. (Source:

Netscape was a popular browser until Microsoft released Internet Explorer, setting off the so-called 'browser war'. IE eventually won that battle, and Netscape was forced to take a backseat to Microsoft. However, during the late 1990s, Netscape began plans to release their web suite as open-source software under the name of Mozilla. Two years later, and under ownership by AOL, Netscape released the first Mozilla-based web browser.  In time, Mozilla was spun off as its own foundation to continue work on the open-source software and they eventually produced Firefox, the new contender for the web browser crown. (Source:

Netscape continued to base its work on Mozilla, but the two browsers were far from identical. Asa Dotzler, an original Firefox developer, greeted the news of Netscape's demise with a blog post entitled, "It's about time." (Source:

According to Dotzler, AOL thwarted practical suggestions that would have improved Netscape in the interests of the company's bottom line. "Back when Mozilla was getting ready to ship Mozilla 1.0, the basis for Netscape 7, the Netscape browser team was required to remove the pop-up blocking feature that those same Netscape engineers had developed in Mozilla. The reason? Obviously because AOL and Netscape web properties generated lots of advertising revenue from pop-up advertising and they couldn't very well ship a product that closed off that revenue stream."

While the browser is dead, will live on as an Internet portal, and anyone feeling nostalgic can still add a Netscape theme extension to Firefox to remember the 'good 'ol days'.

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