On December 28th, 2007, the Netscape Blog announced that AOL is ending support for Netscape web browsers effective February 1, 2008. This doesn't come as much of a surprise, considering the significant decline in Netscape's marketshare over the past decade to more competative browsers such as IE, Firefox, Opera, and Apple's Safari. Nevertheless, it is upsetting to see what was once the technical leader among web browsers become a thing of the past.
Although Netscape has been Mozilla-based since version 6, AOL claims that their "transition into 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." Netscape users are being encouraged to migrate to Mozilla Firefox. Nostalgic Netscape users can download the Netscape theme and extensions for Firefox from the Mozilla website.
A Bit of History
Netscape Navigator became extremely popular in the mid-1990's during the consumer Internet revolution. Their success was seen as a threat by Microsoft who promptly responded with Microsoft Internet Explorer. The two companies began an agile battle for marketshare that would eventually be coined the Browser Wars.
During this time, the rival companies implemented a number of proprietary features in an effort to out perform each other and gain marketshare. Consequently, development was focused more on features than on bug fixes, security, and standardization which led to frustrating and confusing times for consumers and developers alike.
In 1998, as Internet Explorer grew increasingly more popular, Netscape released most of its source code under an open source license which became known as the Mozilla Project. After being purchased by AOL, Netscape released version 6.0 which was based on the Mozilla browser, but its success was minimal at best. Netscape continued to use the Mozilla framework through 2008, at which time it was officially discontinued.