Netscape (web browser)
Netscape Navigator 9.0
|Initial release||December 15, 1994|
|Final release||220.127.116.11 (February 20, 2008)|
|Website||No current website, formerly: https://www.browser.netscape.com/, (archived here)|
The Netscape web browser is the general name for a series of web browsers formerly produced by Netscape Communications Corporation, a former 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.
Timeline and history
Netscape-based (versions 1.0–4.8) releases
Netscape Navigator was the name of Netscape's web browser from versions 1.0 through 4.8. The first version of the browser was released in 1994, 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 had spent time developing) which 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 the most advanced available and was 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 was the first to face any serious competition in the form of Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0, but Netscape held off Microsoft's challenge and remained the number one browser for the time. 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), and was sold as retail software for profit. 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 the undisputed web browser giant in its time with over 90% share, but it was later eroded by the free Internet Explorer included with Windows 95.
Netscape Communicator (versions 4.0–4.8)
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. Standalone versions for other operating systems such as Unix/Linux were maintained up to version 4.8.
On January 22, 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 (cancelled)
Netscape 5.0 (codenamed "Gromit") 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.
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. However, the versions continued to be numbered as if it had been released.
Netscape formed the Mozilla Foundation and developed 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
Netscape 6 (versions 6.0–6.2.3)
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 coordinate the development of Netscape 5 (codenamed "Gromit"), which would be based on the Communicator source code. The aging Communicator code proved difficult to work with and the decision was made in late October to drop the code branch of the Communicator 4.5 core rendering engine and start from scratch using the standards-compliant Gecko rendering engine. Gecko featured in 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. With public beta versions released in April, August, and October, Netscape 6.0 was released in November 2000.
The suite again consisted of Netscape Navigator and the other Communicator components, with the addition of a built-in AOL Instant Messenger client, branded as 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)
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. In response to the complaints, AOL integrated the pop-up blocker into Netscape 7.01. In addition, Netscape 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 reassigned all of Netscape's employees. Mozilla.org continued 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
Netscape Browser (version 8.0–8.1.3)
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 for Microsoft Windows and featuring both the Gecko rendering engine of previous releases and the Trident engine used in Internet Explorer.
AOL's acquisition of Netscape years earlier made it less of a surprise when the company laid off the Netscape team and outsourced development to Mercurial Communications.
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, alongside more enhanced methods of discussion, submission and voting on web pages. It also sees the browser return to multi-platform support across Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. 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. Also for the first time since 2004, the browser was produced in-house with its own programming staff.
A beta of the program was first released on 5 June 2007. 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. On January 28, 2008, Netscape revised this date to March 1, 2008, and offered support for migration to Flock and Mozilla Firefox.
|Operating system||Latest version|
|Mac OS||v9.x-10.0||7.0.2 (2003)|
|Microsoft Windows||3.1||4.08 (1998)|
|Linux||Linux kernel 2.2.14||18.104.22.168 (2008)|
|Internal Build||Old final version||Final version||Pre-release version|
|Browser Name||Series||Version||Based on||Release date||Notes|
|Mosaic Netscape||0.4||Netscape||September 9, 1994||First public beta release|
|0.5||Netscape||September 18, 1994||In-dev Release|
|0.6||Netscape||September 26, 1994||In-dev Release|
|0.7||Netscape||October 1994||In-dev Release|
|0.8||Netscape||October 1994||In-dev Release|
|0.9||Netscape||October 13, 1994||In-dev Release|
|0.91||Netscape||October 1994||In-dev Release|
|0.92||Netscape||October 1994||In-dev Release|
|0.93||Netscape||November 1994||In-dev Release|
|Netscape Navigator||0.94||Netscape||November 21, 1994||In-dev Release|
|0.96||Netscape||December 7, 1994||In-dev Release|
|1.0||Netscape||December 15, 1994||First non-beta release|
|2.01||Netscape||March 18, 1996|
|3.0||Netscape||August 19, 1996||Added support for LiveAudio, LiveVideo, QuickTime, POP3, HTML 3.2 and extra tags.|
|3.03||Netscape||July 31, 1997|
|3.04||Netscape||October 4, 1997|
|Netscape Navigator / Communicator||4.0||Netscape||June 11, 1997||Suite version marketed as Netscape Communicator included Navigator, Messenger, Composer, Collabra, Netcaster, and Conference.|
|4.01||Netscape||June 18, 1997|
|4.01a||Netscape||July 19, 1997|
|4.02||Netscape||August 18, 1997|
|4.03||Netscape||September 14, 1997|
|4.04||Netscape||November 14, 1997|
|4.05||Netscape||April 2, 1998|
|4.06||Netscape||August 17, 1998||Added Macromedia Flash plug-in, "Smart Browsing" and NetWatch.|
|4.07||Netscape||October 5, 1998|
|4.08||Netscape||November 9, 1998||last release for 16-bit Windows and 68k Macs|
|Netscape Communicator||4.5||Netscape||October 19, 1998||Added integrated / Internet messaging, enhanced SmartBrowsing|
|4.51||Netscape||March 8, 1999|
|4.6||Netscape||May 18, 1999||Added AIM, RealPlayer G2, NetHelp|
|4.61||Netscape||June 14, 1999|
|4.7||Netscape||September 30, 1999||Added Netscape Radio, Shop@Netscape, AIM 3.0, Winamp and PalmPilot.|
|4.72||Netscape||February 22, 2000||Removed Calendar Client feature|
|4.73||Netscape||May 5, 2000|
|4.74||Netscape||July 22, 2000|
|4.75||Netscape||September 17, 2000|
|4.76||Netscape||October 25, 2000|
|4.77||Netscape||April 16, 2001|
|4.78||Netscape||July 20, 2001|
|4.79||Netscape||November 10, 2001|
|4.8||Netscape||August 22, 2002||Final Communicator-based release|
|Netscape 5||PreAlpha1||Netscape||Never released, didn't reach Alpha or Beta status|
|Netscape 6||6.0||Mozilla 0.6||November 14, 2000||First Netscape release based on pre-release Mozilla Application Suite. Included Sidebar, customisable installer size, integrated search, themes, privacy protection and multiple e-mail accounts.|
|6.01||Mozilla 0.7||February 9, 2001|
|6.1||Mozilla 0.9.2.1||August 8, 2001||Added new default interface, searching from location bar, Mac OS X support on preview release.|
|6.2||Mozilla 0.9.4.1||October 30, 2001||Improved QuickLaunch, AutoComplete. Full support for Mac OS X and Windows XP|
|6.2.3||Mozilla 0.9.4.1||May 15, 2002|
|Netscape 7||7.0||Mozilla 1.0.1||August 29, 2002||Based on final Mozilla Suite releases. Added tabbed browsing, pop-up blocker, full-screen mode, download manager, P3P support.|
|7.01||Mozilla 1.0.2||December 10, 2002|
|7.02||Mozilla 1.0.2||February 18, 2003||Last release to support Mac OS 9.|
|7.2||Mozilla 1.7.2||August 17, 2004||Improved password manager, vCard support, Palm Sync. Added Netscape Toolbar and table editing in Composer.|
|Netscape Browser||0.5.6||Firefox 0.9.3||November 30, 2004||Stand-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.|
|0.6.4||Firefox 1.0||January 7, 2005||Pre-beta version|
|0.9.4||Firefox 1.0||February 17, 2005||Pre-beta version|
|0.9.5||Firefox 1.0||February 23, 2005||Pre-beta version|
|0.9.6||Firefox 1.0||March 3, 2005||Beta version|
|8.0||Firefox 1.0.3||May 19, 2005||Finished Netscape 8 release|
|8.0.1||Firefox 1.0.3||May 19, 2005|
|8.0.2||Firefox 1.0.4||June 17, 2005|
|22.214.171.124||Firefox 1.0.6||July 25, 2005|
|126.96.36.199||Firefox 1.0.6||August 8, 2005|
|188.8.131.52||Firefox 1.0.6||August 17, 2005|
|8.0.4||Firefox 1.0.7||October 19, 2005|
|8.1||Firefox 1.0.7||January 25, 2006||Added spyware and adware protection, new Dynamic Security Centre, profile manager, new options panel, and enhanced RSS controls.|
|8.1.2||Firefox 184.108.40.206||September 27, 2006|
|8.1.3||Firefox 220.127.116.11||April 2, 2007||Final Netscape 8 release|
|Netscape Navigator||9.0b1||Firefox 18.104.22.168||June 15, 2007||Stand-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.|
|9.0b2||Firefox 22.214.171.124||July 12, 2007||Added greater tabbed browsing options|
|9.0b3||Firefox 126.96.36.199||August 15, 2007||Removed Propeller integration.|
|9.0rc1||Firefox 188.8.131.52||October 1, 2007||Re-added optional splash screen|
|9.0||Firefox 184.108.40.206||October 15, 2007||Finished Navigator 9 release|
|220.127.116.11||Firefox 18.104.22.168||October 22, 2007|
|22.214.171.124||Firefox 126.96.36.199||November 1, 2007|
|188.8.131.52||Firefox 184.108.40.206||November 2, 2007|
|220.127.116.11||Firefox 18.104.22.168||November 27, 2007|
|22.214.171.124||Firefox 126.96.36.199||December 11, 2007|
|188.8.131.52||Firefox 184.108.40.206||February 20, 2008||Final version of Navigator 9. Support discontinued March 1, 2008.|
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- Netscape Community - Netscape 8.1.3 released Archived 2009-01-10 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 8 February 2007.
- Netscape 9.0 confirmed on Netscape's community support board Archived 2008-03-27 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on January 24, 2007
- Netscape 9 - 20 February Announcement Archived 2009-01-09 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on February 20, 2007
- Netscape 9.0 30- Jan 07 announcement Archived 2008-05-28 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on January 30, 2007
- Netscape 9 - 6 February 2007 announcement Archived 15 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on February 6, 2007
- Netscape announces cross-platform Netscape 9 to be developed in a house - Mozillazine Retrieved on February 5, 2007
- Netscape 9.0b1 released Archived 2009-01-09 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 5 June 2007
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