AOL just announced that Netscape Navigator, the browser that launched the commercial Internet in October 1994, and that they acquired in November 1998 as part of their Netscape Communications Corp. acquisition deal for $4.2 billion, will die on February 1, 2008.
Netscape Navigator is currently at version 9. Recent surveys suggest that Netscape currently has only 0.6% market share among browsers, compared to Internet Explorer’s 77.35% and Firefox’s 16.01%. This is down from more than 90 percent of the market in the 90s, when the browser wars began, then the Microsoft antitrust trial took place, before IE took over as leading browser.
To me Netscape Navigator died a long time ago, the last version that counted was somewhere around version 4.5 or 4.7; everything went downwards from there on for Netscape as a browser.
Still, we mustn’t forget the success of the Mozilla foundations and its projects, like the Firefox browser, which spun off of Netscape in February 1998. The legacy of Netscape will live on through Mozilla’s projects.
So, again, support for existing versions of Netscape Navigator will cease on February 1, 2008. A cool thing AOL will be doing though is setting up an archive where people will be able to download older versions of Netscape, without any support.
Rest in peace Netscape Navigator, you can rest assured your role in internet history will never be forgotten.
A history of Netscape Navigator can be found here on Wikipedia.