I have to admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for good old Netscape. It was the first place that I worked in 1997 at the tender young age of 21. At the time that I was at Netscape (NSCP) the company was still booming and the people that I met there were some of the smartest and most talented people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. And then AOL bought us. And although my stock went from $18 a share to $165 a share, the place had changed. Gone were the fun days of kegger Wednesdays and hello to khaki pants and blue Gap shirts. That was about the time I decided to get out of there and back into the Internet frontier.
So it saddens me that after 10 years of life support, AOL has finally decided to let Netscape Navigator die. But then again, we still have Firefox and I am remaining loyal to the good old Moz community.
AOL to End Support of Netscape Navigator
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 29, 2007
Netscape Navigator, the world’s first commercial Web browser and the starting point of the Internet boom, will be pulled off life support Feb. 1 after a 13-year run.
Its current caretakers, Time Warner’s AOL, decided to end further development and technical support to focus on developing the company as an advertising business. Netscape’s use dwindled with Microsoft’s entry into the browser business in the 1990s, and Netscape all but faded away after the birth of its open-source cousin, Firefox.
“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,” the director of Netscape, Tom Drapeau, wrote in a blog entry on Friday.
In recent years, Netscape has been little more than a repackaged version of Firefox, which commands about 10 percent of the Web browser market, with almost all of the rest going to Internet Explorer.
People will still be able to download and use the Netscape browser indefinitely, but AOL will stop releasing security and other updates on Feb. 1. Mr. Drapeau recommended that the small pool of Netscape users download Firefox instead.
The first version of Netscape came out in late 1994, and the company fed the gold-rush atmosphere with a landmark initial public offering of stock in August 1995.
But Netscape’s success also drew the attention of Microsoft, which quickly won market share by giving away its Internet Explorer browser with its flagship Windows operating system. The bundling prompted a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit and later a settlement with Microsoft.
Netscape eventually dropped fees for the software, but it was too late. Netscape sold itself to AOL in a $10 billion deal completed in early 1999.
Here’s a fun video from the Microsoft antitrust case.