AOL discontinued support for NetScape Navigator on Saturday. The browser, which gave many people their first experience of surfing the web, is still available for downloaded but will no longer be maintained or developed. Die-hard users will be left on their own without further security updates. AOL will continue to maintain the NetScape website as a portal.
From a high watermark in the 1990s when 90 per cent of surfers used Navigator its market share has slipped to just 0.6 per cent, way behind Internet Explorer and Firefox.
The open source Firefox browser shares the same code base as Navigator. AOL advises Netscape users to switch to Firefox or Mozilla Flock. Tools will be provided to ease migration while the nostalgic can add Navigator-themed skins to their Firefox browsers.
Netscape was the brainchild Marc Andreessen who, as a young coder, co-developed Mosaic, an early web browser. The first version of the browser was released in 1994 by Netscape Communications Corporation. Microsoft's decision to bundle its rival IE browser with Windows undermined Netscape's business model and led to a legal fight with Microsoft and the browser wars.
An extended interview between the Reg's Ashlee Vance and former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale explores this seminal period in the development of the internet in greater depth. ®