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 reins fully to Mozilla and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox.
In many ways, it’s surprising that Netscape survived until 2008. It fought giants both internal (AOL) and external (Microsoft) for much of its existence, and what few battles it won were too small and too late in the game to matter.
But, there was a time when I truly loved the browser. I stopped my ears so I wouldn’t have to hear those who would point out its (many) flaws, which only grew more numerous as time passed. I groaned when it was acquired by AOL, but in my heart of hearts, I truly hoped that Netscape would transform AOL instead of AOL crushing the browser. It didn’t take too long for reality to set in, and for the bastardization to commence. I am thankful that the Mozilla Foundation manged to escape, and hope that the upcoming release of Firefox 3 will reignite the joy I had when I first saw Netscape; but that is another post.
I wish Netscape a healthy rest, and think of it fondly in the future, if, for no other reason than the fact that it was instrumental in spreading so much knowledge and entertainment and launching so many careers, including mine.