Netscape (web browser)


Netscape was the general name for a
series of web browsers originally produced by Netscape Communications
Corporation, now a subsidiary of AOL. The original browser was once the
dominant browser in terms of usage share, but as a result of the first
browser war, it lost virtually all of its share to Internet Explorer.
Netscape was discontinued and support for all Netscape browsers and client
products was terminated on March 1, 2008.
Timeline and History =Netscape-based releases=
Netscape Navigator Netscape Navigator was the name of
Netscape’s web browser from versions 1.0 through 4.8. The first beta release
versions of the browser was released in 1994 and known as Mosaic and then Mosaic
Netscape until a legal challenge from the National Center for Supercomputing
Applications, led to the name change to Netscape Navigator. The company’s name
also changed from Mosaic Communications Corporation to Netscape Communications
Corporation. The browser was easily the most advanced
available and was therefore an instant success, becoming market leader while
still in beta. Netscape’s feature-count and market share continued to grow
rapidly after version 1.0 was released. Version 2.0 added a full mail reader
called Netscape Mail, thus transforming Netscape from a mere web browser to an
Internet suite. During this period, both the browser and the suite were known as
Netscape Navigator. Around the same time, AOL started bundling their
software with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Version 3.0 of Netscape was the first to face any serious competition in the form
of Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0. Netscape easily held off Microsoft’s
challenge and remained the number one browser for the time being. Version 3.0
was also available in a “Gold” version which featured a WYSIWYG HTML editor.
Netscape 3.0 introduced many new features such as new plug-ins,
background colors for tables, the archive attribute and the applet
element. Netscape Navigator 3 was a huge success and the undisputed web browser
giant in its time with over 90% share, but was later eroded by the free
Internet Explorer included with Windows 98. The highest version in this line was
3.04. Netscape Communicator
Netscape 4 addressed the problem of Netscape Navigator being used as both
the name of the suite and the browser contained within it by renaming the
suite to Netscape Communicator. After releasing five preview releases from
1996–1997, Netscape Corp. released the final version of Netscape Communicator
in June 1997. This new version, more or less based on Netscape Navigator 3 Code,
updated and added new features. The new suite was successful, despite increasing
competition from Internet Explorer 4.0 and problems with the outdated browser
core. The Communicator suite was made up of Netscape Navigator, Netscape Mail and
Newsgroups, Netscape Address Book and Netscape Composer. In October 1998
version 4.5 of Netscape Communicator was released. This new version featured
various functionality improvements, especially in the Mail/News component,
but did not update the browser core. Only one month later, Netscape
Communications Corporation was bought by AOL. A standalone version of Netscape
Navigator was still available, but this was discontinued after version 4.08 for
Windows. Standalone versions for other operating systems such as Unix/Linux
were maintained up to version 4.8. In January 1998, Netscape Communications
Corporation announced that all future versions of their software would be free
of charge and developed by an Open Source Community. Netscape Communicator
5.0 was announced. But there were significant delays to the release of
Netscape’s next major version and Communicator therefore aged badly over
the many years it was still used. As a result of this, and a more advanced
support of HTML 4, CSS, DOM, and ECMAScript by Internet Explorer starting
with version 4, the more up-to-date Internet Explorer 5.0 became the market
leader. In November 1998 work on Netscape 5.0 was cancelled in favor of
developing a completely new program from scratch.
Netscape Communicator 5.0 Netscape 5.0 was a continuation of the
4.x code, but only two pre-alpha versions were written, one based on
original Communicator code and another using the Gecko layout engine.
Though Netscape had originally intended to deploy Mariner and later replace it
with Gecko, Netscape 5 and Mariner were scrapped completely. However, the
versions continued to be numbered as if it had been released.
Netscape formed the Mozilla Foundation and develop the Mozilla Application
Suite using Gecko. The open-source Mozilla browser was in turn used as the
basis for Netscape 6.=Mozilla Application Suite-based
releases=Netscape 6
In 1998, an informal group called the Mozilla Organization was formed and
largely funded by Netscape to co-ordinate the development of Netscape
5, which would be based on the Communicator source code. The aging
Communicator code proved difficult to work with and the decision was made to
scrap Netscape 5 and re-write the source code. The re-written source code was in
the form of the Mozilla web browser, which, with a few additions, Netscape 6
was based on. This decision meant that Netscape’s next
major version was severely delayed. In the meantime, Netscape was taken over by
AOL who, acting under pressure from the Web Standards Project, forced its new
division to release Netscape 6.0 in 2000. The suite again consisted of
Netscape Navigator and the other Communicator components, with the
addition of a built-in AOL Instant Messenger client, branded as Netscape
Instant Messenger. However, it was clear that Netscape 6 was not yet ready for
release and it flopped badly. It was based on Mozilla 0.6, which was not
ready to be used by the general public yet due to many serious bugs that would
cause it to crash often or render web pages slowly.
Later versions of Netscape 6 were much improved, but the browser still
struggled to make an impact on a disappointed community.
Netscape Netscape 7.0 was released in August 2002
was a direct continuation of Netscape 6 with very similar components. It picked
up a few users, but was still very much a minority browser, one of the problems
being that Mozilla itself was a worthy adversary. In addition, AOL had decided
to deactivate Mozilla’s popup-blocker functionality in Netscape 7.0, which
created an outrage in the community. AOL learned the lesson for Netscape 7.01 and
allowed Netscape to reinstate the popup-blocker. Netscape also introduced
a new AOL-free-version of the browser suite. Netscape 7.1 was released in June
2003. In 2003, AOL closed down its Netscape
division and laid-off or reassigned all of Netscape’s employees. Mozilla.org
continued as the independent Mozilla Foundation, taking on many of Netscape’s
ex-employees. AOL continued to develop Netscape in-house, but, due to there
being no staff committed to it, improvements were minimal.
One year later, in August 2004, the last version based on Mozilla was released:
Netscape 7.2, based on Mozilla 1.7.2.=Mozilla Firefox-based releases=
Netscape Browser Between 2005 and 2007, Netscape’s
releases became known as Netscape Browser. AOL chose to base Netscape
Browser on the relatively successful Mozilla Firefox, a re-written version of
Mozilla produced by the Mozilla Foundation. This release is not a full
Internet suite as before, but is solely a web browser. Other controversial
decisions include these versions being made only Gecko rendering engine of
previous releases and the Trident engine used in Internet Explorer.
AOL’s acquisition of Netscape years ago made it less of a surprise when the
company laid off the Netscape team and outsourced development to Mercurial
Communications. Netscape Browser 8.1.3 was released on
April 2, 2007, and included general bug fixes identified in versions 8.0–8.1.2
Netscape Navigator Netscape confirmed on 23 January 2007
that Netscape Browser versions 8.0-8.1.2 was to be succeeded by a new stand-alone
browser release, Netscape Navigator 9. Its features were said to include
newsfeed support and become more integrated with the Propeller Internet
portal, alongside more enhanced methods of discussion, submission and voting on
web pages. It also sees the browser return to multi-platform support across
Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Like Netscape version 8.x, the new release
was based upon the popular Mozilla Firefox, and had full support of all
Firefox add-ons and plugins, some of which Netscape provided. Also for the
first time since 2004, the browser was produced in-house with its own
programming staff. A beta of the program was first released
on 5 June 2007. The final version was released on October 15, 2007.
On December 28, 2007, Netscape developers announced that AOL would
discontinue their web browser on February 1, 2008, due to low market
share. On January 28, 2008, Netscape revised this date to March 1, 2008, and
offered support for migration to Flock and Mozilla Firefox.
Release compatibility Release history
See also Netscape
Mozilla Firefox Gecko
References External links
Netscape Browser Archive, SillyDog701 OldVersion.com – Netscape Download
Archive

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