Netscape (web browser)

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Netscape Navigator
NS9 screenshot.PNG
Netscape Navigator 9.0
Developer(s)Netscape Communications
AOL
Initial releaseDecember 15, 1994; 19 years ago (1994-12-15)
Stable release9.0.0.6 (February 20, 2008; 6 years ago (2008-02-20)) [±]
Preview releasenone (n/a) [±]
Development statusUnmaintained as of March 1, 2008
TypeWeb browser
LicenseProprietary software
 
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Netscape Navigator
NS9 screenshot.PNG
Netscape Navigator 9.0
Developer(s)Netscape Communications
AOL
Initial releaseDecember 15, 1994; 19 years ago (1994-12-15)
Stable release9.0.0.6 (February 20, 2008; 6 years ago (2008-02-20)) [±]
Preview releasenone (n/a) [±]
Development statusUnmaintained as of March 1, 2008
TypeWeb browser
LicenseProprietary software
A/UX running Netscape.

Netscape was the general name for a series of web browsers originally produced by Netscape Communications Corporation, now a subsidiary of AOL. The original browser was once the dominant browser in terms of usage share, but as a result of the first browser war, it lost virtually all of its share to Internet Explorer.

Netscape was discontinued and support for all Netscape browsers and client products was terminated on March 1, 2008.[1][2]

Netscape Navigator (versions 1.0–3.0)[edit]

A screenshot of Netscape 1.2 on Windows 3.1

Netscape Navigator was the name of Netscape's web browser from versions 1.0 through 4.8. The first beta release versions of the browser were released in 1994 and known as Mosaic and then Mosaic Netscape until a legal challenge from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (makers of NCSA Mosaic, which many of Netscape's founders used to develop), led to the name change to Netscape Navigator. The company's name also changed from Mosaic Communications Corporation to Netscape Communications Corporation.

The browser was easily the most advanced available and was therefore an instant success, becoming market leader while still in beta. Netscape's feature-count and market share continued to grow rapidly after version 1.0 was released. Version 2.0 added a full mail reader called Netscape Mail, thus transforming Netscape from a mere web browser to an Internet suite. During this period, both the browser and the suite were known as Netscape Navigator. Around the same time, AOL started bundling their software with Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Version 3.0 of Netscape (the first beta was codenamed "Atlas") was the first to face any serious competition in the form of Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0. Netscape, however, easily held off Microsoft's challenge and remained the number one browser for the time being. Version 3.0 was also available in a "Gold" version which featured a WYSIWYG HTML editor (later added to Netscape Communicator as a standard feature). Netscape 3.0 introduced many new features such as new plug-ins, background colors for tables, the archive attribute and the applet element. Netscape Navigator 3 was a huge success and the undisputed web browser giant in its time with over 90% share, but was later eroded by the free Internet Explorer included with Windows 98. The highest version in this line was 3.04.

Netscape Communicator (versions 4.0–4.8)[edit]

Netscape 4 addressed the problem of Netscape Navigator being used as both the name of the suite and the browser contained within it by renaming the suite to Netscape Communicator.

After releasing five preview releases from 1996–1997, Netscape Corp. released the final version of Netscape Communicator in June 1997. This new version, more or less based on Netscape Navigator 3 Code, updated and added new features (such as support of certain CSS1 elements, minimal dynamic font support and the proprietary object element). The new suite was successful, despite increasing competition from Internet Explorer 4.0 and problems with the outdated browser core. The Communicator suite was made up of Netscape Navigator, Netscape Mail and Newsgroups, Netscape Address Book and Netscape Composer (an HTML editor, which later became Mozilla Composer and eventually was split off into a completely separate product, Nvu). In October 1998 version 4.5 of Netscape Communicator was released. This new version featured various functionality improvements, especially in the Mail/News component, but did not update the browser core (which, in its functionality, was basically identical with version 4.08). Only one month later, Netscape Communications Corporation was bought by AOL. A standalone version of Netscape Navigator was still available, but this was discontinued after version 4.08 for Windows. However, standalone versions for other operating systems such as Unix/Linux were maintained up to version 4.8.

In January 1998, Netscape Communications Corporation announced that all future versions of their software would be free of charge and developed by an Open Source Community (Mozilla). Netscape Communicator 5.0 was announced (codenamed "Gromit"). But there were significant delays to the release of Netscape's next major version and Communicator therefore aged badly over the many years it was still used. As a result of this, and a more advanced support of HTML 4, CSS, DOM, and ECMAScript by Internet Explorer starting with version 4, the more up-to-date Internet Explorer 5.0 became the market leader. In November 1998 work on Netscape 5.0 was cancelled in favor of developing a completely new program from scratch.

Netscape Communicator 5.0 (canceled)[edit]

Netscape 5.0 (codenamed "Gromit"[3]) was a continuation of the 4.x code, but only two pre-alpha versions were written, one based on original Communicator code (with layout engine stability and performance enhancements to the 4.0 codebase, codenamed Mariner) and another using the Gecko layout engine.[4]

Though Netscape had originally intended to deploy Mariner and later replace it with Gecko (which had been developed from scratch), Netscape 5 and Mariner were scrapped completely. Netscape formed the Mozilla Foundation and develop the Mozilla Application Suite using Gecko. The open-source Mozilla browser was in turn used as the basis for Netscape 6.

Mozilla Application Suite-based releases[edit]

Netscape 6 (versions 6.0–6.2.3)[edit]

Netscape Navigator 6.1

In 1998, an informal group called the Mozilla Organization was formed and largely funded by Netscape (the vast majority of programmers working on the code were paid by Netscape) to co-ordinate the development of Netscape 5 (codenamed "Gromit"), which would be based on the Communicator source code. However, the aging Communicator code proved difficult to work with and the decision was made to scrap Netscape 5 and re-write the source code. The re-written source code was in the form of the Mozilla web browser, which, with a few additions, Netscape 6 was based on.

This decision meant that Netscape's next major version was severely delayed. In the meantime, Netscape was taken over by AOL who, acting under pressure from the Web Standards Project, forced its new division to release Netscape 6.0 in 2000. The suite again consisted of Netscape Navigator and the other Communicator components, with the addition of a built-in AOL Instant Messenger client, Netscape Instant Messenger. However, it was clear that Netscape 6 was not yet ready for release and it flopped badly. It was based on Mozilla 0.6, which was not ready to be used by the general public yet due to many serious bugs that would cause it to crash often or render web pages slowly.

Later versions of Netscape 6 were much improved (6.2.x was regarded as an especially good release), but the browser still struggled to make an impact on a disappointed community.

Netscape (versions 7.0–7.2)[edit]

Netscape 7.0 (codenamed "Mach Five" and based on Mozilla 1.0.1) was released in August 2002 was a direct continuation of Netscape 6 with very similar components. It picked up a few users, but was still very much a minority browser, one of the problems being that Mozilla itself was a worthy adversary. In addition, AOL had decided to deactivate Mozilla's popup-blocker functionality in Netscape 7.0, which created an outrage in the community. AOL learned the lesson for Netscape 7.01 and allowed Netscape to reinstate the popup-blocker. Netscape also introduced a new AOL-free-version (without the usual AOL addons) of the browser suite. Netscape 7.1 (codenamed "Buffy" and based on Mozilla 1.4) was released in June 2003.

In 2003, AOL closed down its Netscape division and laid-off or re-assigned all of Netscape's employees. Mozilla.org continued, however, as the independent Mozilla Foundation, taking on many of Netscape's ex-employees. AOL continued to develop Netscape in-house, but, due to there being no staff committed to it, improvements were minimal.

One year later, in August 2004, the last version based on Mozilla was released: Netscape 7.2, based on Mozilla 1.7.2.

Mozilla Firefox-based releases[edit]

Netscape Browser (version 8.0–8.1.3)[edit]

Netscape Browser 8.1.3

Between 2005 and 2007, Netscape's releases became known as Netscape Browser. AOL chose to base Netscape Browser on the relatively successful Mozilla Firefox, a re-written version of Mozilla produced by the Mozilla Foundation. This release is not a full Internet suite as before, but is solely a web browser. Other controversial decisions include these versions being made only Gecko rendering engine of previous releases and the Trident engine used in Internet Explorer.

AOL's acquisition of Netscape years ago made it less of a surprise when the company laid off the Netscape team and outsourced development to Mercurial Communications.

Netscape Browser 8.1.3 was released on April 2, 2007, and included general bug fixes identified in versions 8.0–8.1.2[5][6]

Netscape Navigator (version 9.0)[edit]

Netscape confirmed on 23 January 2007 that Netscape Browser versions 8.0-8.1.2 was to be succeeded by a new stand-alone browser release, Netscape Navigator 9. Its features were said to include newsfeed support and become more integrated with the Propeller Internet portal,[7] alongside more enhanced methods of discussion, submission and voting on web pages.[8] It also sees the browser return to multi-platform support across Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.[9] Like Netscape version 8.x, the new release was based upon the popular Mozilla Firefox (version 2.0), and had full support of all Firefox add-ons and plugins, some of which Netscape provided.[10] Also for the first time since 2004, the browser was produced in-house with its own programming staff.[11]

A beta of the program was first released on 5 June 2007.[12] The final version was released on October 15, 2007.

On December 28, 2007, Netscape developers announced that AOL would discontinue their web browser on February 1, 2008, due to low market share.[13] On January 28, 2008, Netscape revised this date to March 1, 2008, and offered support for migration to Flock and Mozilla Firefox.[14]

Release compatibility[edit]

Operating systemLatest version
Mac OSv9.x-10.07.0.2
v10.17.2
v10.2-10.59.0.0.6
Microsoft Windows3.14.08
956.2.3
987.2
98SE-Vista9.0.0.6

Release history[edit]

Key:
Internal BuildOld final versionFinal versionPre-release version
Browser NameSeriesVersionBased onRelease dateNotes
Mosaic Netscape
0.x
0.4NetscapeSeptember 9, 1994First public beta release
0.5NetscapeSeptember 18, 1994In-dev Release
0.6NetscapeSeptember 26, 1994In-dev Release
0.7NetscapeOctober 1994In-dev Release
0.8NetscapeOctober 1994In-dev Release
0.9NetscapeOctober 13, 1994In-dev Release
0.91NetscapeOctober 1994In-dev Release
0.92NetscapeOctober 1994In-dev Release
0.93NetscapeNovember 1994In-dev Release
Netscape Navigator0.94NetscapeNovember 21, 1994In-dev Release
0.96NetscapeDecember 7, 1994In-dev Release
1.x
1.0NetscapeDecember 15, 1994First non-beta release
1.1NetscapeMarch 1995
1.22NetscapeAugust 1995
2.x
2.0NetscapeSeptember 18, 1995Including JavaScript support, Java support, plug-ins, integrated Messenger / Collabra, Auto-dither, Live3D. Support for font color, div, wrap and textarea tags. Superscript / subscript, Animated GIF
2.01NetscapeMarch 18, 1996
2.02Netscape
3.x
3.0NetscapeAugust 19, 1996Added support for LiveAudio, LiveVideo, QuickTime, POP3, HTML 3.2 and extra tags.
3.01Netscape
3.02Netscape
3.03NetscapeJuly 31, 1997
3.04NetscapeOctober 4, 1997
Netscape Navigator / Communicator
4.x
4.0NetscapeJune 11, 1997Suite version marketed as Netscape Communicator included Navigator, Messenger, Composer, Collabra, Netcaster, and Conference.
4.01NetscapeJune 18, 1997
4.01aNetscapeJuly 19, 1997
4.02NetscapeAugust 18, 1997
4.03NetscapeSeptember 14, 1997
4.04NetscapeNovember 14, 1997
4.05NetscapeApril 2, 1998
4.06NetscapeAugust 17, 1998Added Macromedia Flash plug-in, "Smart Browsing" and NetWatch.
4.07NetscapeOctober 5, 1998
4.08NetscapeNovember 9, 1998last release for 16-bit Windows and 68k Macs
Netscape Communicator4.5NetscapeOctober 19, 1998Added integrated / Internet messaging, enhanced SmartBrowsing
4.51NetscapeMarch 8, 1999
4.6NetscapeMay 18, 1999Added AIM, RealPlayer G2, NetHelp
4.61NetscapeJune 14, 1999
4.7NetscapeSeptember 30, 1999Added Netscape Radio, Shop@Netscape, AIM 3.0, Winamp and PalmPilot.
4.72NetscapeFebruary 22, 2000Removed Calendar Client feature
4.73NetscapeMay 5, 2000Added new 128-bit strong encryption
4.74NetscapeJuly 22, 2000
4.75NetscapeSeptember 17, 2000
4.76NetscapeOctober 25, 2000
4.77NetscapeApril 16, 2001
4.78NetscapeJuly 20, 2001
4.79NetscapeNovember 10, 2001
4.8NetscapeAugust 22, 2002Final Communicator-based release
Netscape 5
5.x
PreAlpha1NetscapeNever released, didn't reach Alpha or Beta status
PreAlpha2NSLayout
Netscape 6
6.x
6.0Mozilla 0.6November 14, 2000First Netscape release based on pre-release Mozilla Application Suite. Included Sidebar, customisable installer size, integrated search, themes, privacy protection and multiple e-mail accounts.
6.01Mozilla 0.7February 9, 2001
6.1Mozilla 0.9.2.1August 8, 2001Added new default interface, searching from location bar, Mac OS X support on preview release.
6.2Mozilla 0.9.4.1October 30, 2001Improved QuickLaunch, AutoComplete. Full support for Mac OS X and Windows XP
6.2.1Mozilla 0.9.4.1
6.2.2Mozilla 0.9.4.1
6.2.3Mozilla 0.9.4.1May 15, 2002
Netscape 7
7.x
7.0Mozilla 1.0.1August 29, 2002Based on final Mozilla Suite releases. Added tabbed browsing, pop-up blocker, full-screen mode, download manager, P3P support.
7.01Mozilla 1.0.2December 10, 2002
7.02Mozilla 1.0.2February 18, 2003Last release to support Mac OS 9.
7.1Mozilla 1.4June 30, 2003Support Windows Media Player ActiveX control, web services by JavaScript API's.
7.2Mozilla 1.7.2August 17, 2004Improved password manager, vCard support, Palm Sync. Added Netscape Toolbar and table editing in Composer.
Netscape Browser
8.x
0.5.6Firefox 0.9.3November 30, 2004Stand-alone Windows-only browser based on Firefox, beta version. Uses both Gecko and Trident layout engines. Added site controls, multibar, password auto-fill, and advanced tabbed browsing controls.
0.6.4Firefox 1.0January 7, 2005Pre-beta version
0.9.4Firefox 1.0February 17, 2005Pre-beta version
0.9.5Firefox 1.0February 23, 2005Pre-beta version
0.9.6Firefox 1.0March 3, 2005Beta version
8.0Firefox 1.0.3May 19, 2005Finished Netscape 8 release
8.0.1Firefox 1.0.3May 19, 2005
8.0.2Firefox 1.0.4June 17, 2005
8.0.3.1Firefox 1.0.6July 25, 2005
8.0.3.3Firefox 1.0.6August 8, 2005
8.0.3.4Firefox 1.0.6August 17, 2005
8.0.4Firefox 1.0.7October 19, 2005
8.1Firefox 1.0.7January 25, 2006Added spyware and adware protection, new Dynamic Security Centre, profile manager, new options panel, and enhanced RSS controls.
8.1.2Firefox 1.0.8September 27, 2006
8.1.3Firefox 1.0.8April 2, 2007Final Netscape 8 release
Netscape Navigator
9.x
9.0b1Firefox 2.0.0.4June 15, 2007Stand-alone browser based on Mozilla Firefox 2, total re-write from Netscape 8.x. Gecko-only support. Added Netscape.com integration, enhanced FTP listing interface, customizable link-pad, multi-platform support, greater Firefox add-on compatibility, and new user interface.
9.0b2Firefox 2.0.0.4July 12, 2007Added greater tabbed browsing options
9.0b3Firefox 2.0.0.6August 15, 2007Removed Propeller integration.
9.0rc1Firefox 2.0.0.6October 1, 2007Re-added optional splash screen
9.0Firefox 2.0.0.7October 15, 2007Finished Navigator 9 release
9.0.0.1Firefox 2.0.0.8October 22, 2007
9.0.0.2Firefox 2.0.0.8November 1, 2007
9.0.0.3Firefox 2.0.0.9November 2, 2007
9.0.0.4Firefox 2.0.0.10November 27, 2007
9.0.0.5Firefox 2.0.0.11December 11, 2007
9.0.0.6Firefox 2.0.0.12February 20, 2008Final version of Navigator 9. Support discontinued March 1, 2008.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]