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Netscape Dead?,aid,111604,00.asp

Jeff MacDonald
Thursday, July 17, 2003

I think this topic was discussed in detail earlier. But anyway...
In my opinion Netscape's been dead for years; the battle's on between IE and Mozilla now.

Mickey Petersen
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Sorry if this is redundant - I must have missed the other thread. 

Jeff MacDonald
Thursday, July 17, 2003

The problem Mozilla faces, and this is something Eric Meyer mentioned on his blog, is that Netscape is/was a brand name known by consumers.

IE6/Netscape 7 are probably "good enough" for most users these days and it's hard to see a compelling reason for them to upgrade given that they won't be able to get free versions of the "known" browsers.

Safari is perhaps the most intriguing browser because Microsoft seem to be saying "Just use Safari on the Mac" (MSN for Mac will still be available, but it will cost). With a large proportion of the design community using Macs will the stick with Mac IE or will the transition to Safari (and with that XHTML, CSS, etc)?

Interesting times.

Walter Rumsby
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Interesting how everyone always seems to separate Netscape and Mozilla, failing to mention the fact that the majority of contributions to Mozilla came from, and continue to come from, the Netscape development team (as Mozilla is the foundation of Netscape). Without a paycheque putting food on the table, a lot of these people will be saying adieu to the Mozilla project.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Ah, they won't continue to come from Netscape - all those folks got fired this week.

Mozilla is different in the mind of Joe User because:

Mozilla == "What's that? Don't you mean Mothra?"
Netscape == "That browser I used back when Jannie was born"

That's not significant to you because you "know better", but it is very significant to the majority of people.

Walter Rumsby
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Back when Netscape was cool I bought some of their merchandise, including a t-shirt and a coffee cup, with the Mozilla character on them. He ruled.

My favourite website at that time was "Mirsky's Worst of the Web". Twas a great site.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Most people wouldn't know what a browser was.

Thursday, July 17, 2003


"Without a paycheque putting food on the table, a lot of these people will be saying adieu to the Mozilla project."

I disagree with the implications of that statement.

* Lots of open-source projects have done great without a large number of people paid to work on them full-time: Apache, MySQL, Python, Perl, Linux, etc. Sure, all have their flaws, but it would be a gross exaggeration to call any of them failures, much less failures for lack of paid developers.

* From what I gather, the Netscape employees have played less and less of a role as time has passed. Of course, their contributions are still significant, but AOL layoffs don't mean the end of the project.

* Lastly, I get the impression that many Netscape/Mozilla contributors, including AOL-TW employees, were unhappy with the corporate/marketing-oriented leadership directing the project (to God knows where). They're now freed from that burden.

I wouldn't say that AOL's decision helps or hurts Mozilla development, so much as this changes its nature.

Joe Grossberg
Friday, July 18, 2003

As a limey my opinion won't really count much.. but here goes.

Netscape was on the ropes when MS IE 5.0 came on the scene. IE was faster at loading pages, wasn't so rigid about JS  and CSS hiccups and seemed to have a cleaner interface.

We now have Win2k on the desktop with IE6. The standard office user in this company doesn't really care what browser they use, as long as it doesn't seem to break on each page load, come up with "Install this plugin.." dialog boxes etc etc.  MS mostly fills these requirements.

Now I have to confess that I like IE6... but I like Mozilla Firebird even more, and have introduced it to most of the techies in the office. It is now my default browser, and has perfomed beyond my expectations.

If only Netscape had built Firebird two years ago, we wouldn't be talking about their demise.

Raddy Echt
Friday, July 18, 2003

Seems to me hosting of multi-media surfaces is a need for a very large subset of applications these days. The web has made sure that we have a standard declarative description language for handeling this type of thing: HTML. It seems obvious that this functionality belongs with the system, so it can be depended on and reused by application developers. Windows has MSHTML, the Mac will have a component around the Safari technology and the unices will have something based on Mozila tech.

"Browsers" are realy just a special thin wrapper around these components, providing some navigational UI functionality. They have a historical special place since they were the app that drove the maturing of a standard.
So yes, I would argue that all browsers in the sense of deep closed application stacks are dead.

Multi media rendering itself has been part of the systems for ages. The declarative language interpreter was the next layer to go down. This took some platforms longer than others, but I for one like that it looks like it is ending up looking more or less the same everywhere.
The UI is left, and since that is a matter of taste and more diferentiable to different niches it will always be left. Platforms will all include a standard UI shell around the HTML interpreter/MM renderer stack, and that will probably continue to be known as IE, Safari or Mozilla, but many other "browsing" shells will continue to appear on each platform.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, July 18, 2003

Why don't companies like Opera build on top of Mozilla?

Friday, July 18, 2003

Because companies like Opera want to own the entire browser so they can sell it for money as well as shoehorn it into very small places and earn money that way.

Friday, July 18, 2003

I have to disagree on your statement that Mozilla does not depend on the manpower of a company. Unlike most other successful OSS projects, Mozilla DID heavily depend on a core of 5 people, all employed by AOL/Netscape, which did the most significant part of design and development.

Johnny Bravo
Friday, July 18, 2003

You shouldn't forget the people in France who kept the CSS flame alive.

Simon Lucy
Saturday, July 19, 2003

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