Rest in Peace, Netscape

Netscape LogoThe Netscape Blog has officially announced today the end of an era. As of February 1, 2008, there will be no further releases of Netscape from AOL and it sounds like the small team working on it there has been closed down. That means no security updates for Netscape users and no update to Gecko 1.9 when Firefox 3 is releases this coming Spring.

The announcement states:

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. Recently, support for the Netscape browser has been limited to a handful of engineers tasked with creating a skinned version of Firefox with a few extensions. AOL's focus on transitioning to 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. Given AOL's current business focus and the success the Mozilla Foundation has had in developing critically-acclaimed products, we feel it's the right time to end development of Netscape branded browsers, hand the reigns fully to Mozilla and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox. Q: What will this mean? A: We'll continue to release security patches for the current version of the browser, Netscape Navigator until February 1, 2008. After February 1, there will be no more active product support for Navigator 9, or any previous Netscape Navigator browser. This includes Netscape v1-v4.x, Netscape v6, Netscape v7 Suite, Netscape Browser v8, and Netscape Navigator/Messenger 9.

This is the end of an era. I think it is safe to say that most of us believe that the torch was passed to Mozilla years ago and many of us hardly think of the fact that a Netscape browser still technically exists. On the other hand, there has been a Netscape Navigator since the early days of the Web. This is the first time in 13 years that there won’t be an actual “Netscape Navigator” out there since the initial 0.9 release in late 1994. Navigator has been a shadow of its former self for years but I still know plenty of people here and there that run it, for brand recognition as much as anything else. On a positive note, they do recommend people go and install Firefox and continue down the road with us.

Let us have a moment of silence for the final passing of Netscape (or perhaps it is time for a nice wake).