Netscape Just Won't Die

Album Cover: Kid A

"We got heads on sticks. You got ventriloquists."
Radiohead / Kid A

Posted on October 13, 2004 9:39 AM in Browsers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Whenever I hear about the possible reemergence of the Netscape browser, I get very grumpy.

Needless to say, with "special coverage" popping up over at C|Net today regarding the possible rejuvenation of my least favorite Web browser of all time, I am grumpier than ever.

Why won't Netscape just go away?

Even though I'm grumpy, I couldn't help but agree with Jon Mittelhauser's thoughts in Netscape: Bowed, but not broken:

I think it is basically a lost cause. I keep hearing quotes from people like Marc [Andreessen] about how these independent little browsers are going to challenge IE since it is stagnating. I wish them all the best, but I don't think they have learned from the past. Microsoft won that war because they can outspend anyone.

The browser is not advancing because (Microsoft isn't) being challenged. I hope that someone does start to challenge them just to get Microsoft to invest in the browser again, but nobody could ever actually retake the crown. If Microsoft starts to feel some pressure, they will just crank up the spending again and crush whoever it is.

I seriously could not agree more with this statement. When the big ugly IE giant awakens, I have a feeling the little guys are going to be in for an awakening themselves. While I think that Firefox and Safari will most likely be able to hang on, I don't think Netscape has a chance. But then again, I never did.

The aforementioned article also mentions how it is most likely the success of the Firefox browser that has contributed to AOL's renewed interest in the Netscape brand. That puts me in an interesting catch-22, because I of course want to see Firefox evolve and succeed, but I absolutely do not want to see Netscape Navigator, Communicator, or anything else return to the browser market.

I suppose the only solace I can take is in thinking that the new Netscape browser may be based on the Gecko rendering engine, but after hearing about AOL's latest interest in Microsoft technology, I'm not feeling very warm and fuzzy at all.


sinceAug04 on October 13, 2004 at 10:19 PM:

If you want firefox to gain more ground, then update graymodern theme! Please!

btw it's ironic that AOL is producing a standalone browser based on IE and not their engine


Arcanius on October 14, 2004 at 1:27 AM:

Good linkage. Thanks for keeping me up-to-date on the browser news.

As for Netscape, I thought they lost most of their credibility with v.4.0 and all of it with anything after that, which I am happy to say I have never even installed or had the disopportunity to use. Releaucning it is like relaunching Napster. Its kind of pointless, now that its not what it used to be. What AOL should do is put its weight behind a standards-compliant browser like Firefox and give its users some real options. That should get Microsoft's attention

I look forward to Microsoft's IE re-awakening with a mix of anticipation and trepidation.


Richard Ragon on October 18, 2004 at 11:21 PM:

"Why won't Netscape just go away?" your joking right?

Netscape was "my first browser", and I still use it today! As far as I'm concerned.. it never went anywhere, and I have no plans to go anywhere else.. and certainly not to that piece of #*& called IE.

Version 7.x is rock solid, works well, and is very standard compliant...

However, while talking to my next door neighbor neighbor the other day ( a typical joe consumer such as yourself) it became painfully obvious that the Netscape name will never reign again, I'm afraid..

We got into the browser discussions, and he made the comment, that NS had the chance, and lost it.. Which lead me too the question of, "so, its possible that no matter how well it runs, it can never be a top dog again? In other words, it could be 100% bug free, have loads of great features be way ahead of it's time, but because it's called "NS" never be considered a contender again?"

Interesting how consumer stigmatism's set in, and even though something can obviously be superior, it still doesn't have a chance..

I guess this the smart thing for Netscape to do at this point would be to shut down, change the name, re-brand the browser to "foo-broswer" and release version 1.0 so that idiots like you can write about how they recently discovered a revolutionary new browser called "foo-browser"..



Bernie Zimmermann on October 20, 2004 at 6:17 AM:

Sorry Richard, but Netscape by any other name is still crap. Netscape 4 ruined it's chances for this lifetime and the next. Why haven't you switched to Firefox yet?

Oh, and by the way, I liked the "idiots like you" touch – really exemplified your point.


Richard Ragon on October 24, 2004 at 1:29 PM:

Your response is, "Sorry Richard, but Netscape by any other name is still crap. Netscape 4 ruined it's chances for this lifetime and the next. "?

So.. despite the fact that it could be a superior product now, it doesn't have a chance simply because it had a downward slide 10 years ago?

So no response, no debate.. just a reiteration on your same theme.. thus proving my point again.?

Like I said.. People like you are why whole companies change their name.

And.. what makes you so sure that I don't have Firefox? Assuming makes and ass or of u and me. ass-u-me. You're assumptions keep pointing out how clue-less you are.

Either way.. saying Firefox, or Mozilla is better then Netscape, is kind of like saying that a GMC Tahoe is better then a Chevy Suburban... hello clue-less.. they are build on the same Gecko assembly line!



Bernie Zimmermann on October 24, 2004 at 6:50 PM:


Yes, Netscape by any other name is crap. I'm glad you're listening ;)

You're obviously not a long time web designer (another assumption – *gasp*), because if you were, it would be a lot easier for you to see things from my perspective. When Netscape 4 came along, it did some nasty things that have forever tarnished its name (and any subsequent names that are created in its favor) among designers and developers like myself.

Then, Netscape did something really silly and skipped an entire version number while releasing a product that for most people wouldn't even start up. In cases where it did, it literally took minutes as opposed to seconds. No one wants that kind of browser.

And please don't give me the "Netscape is Firefox" argument because it's bull. Just becuase the Netscape folks at AOL got wise and realized they'd never come up with another good browser on their own and decided to make use of all the hard work that has gone into Gecko doesn't mean they are the same browser.

The only reason that Netscape is still around is because it is a powerful brand name that once ruled in its class. This exemplifies the point, however, that Netscape is an inferior browser when compared to Firefox and even Internet Explorer. Why? It's simple. If Netscape were "as good" or "the same" as Firefox, Netscape would be getting all the attention right now and not Firefox, simply because Netscape already has the name recognition to become successful. The difference is, Netscape is not Firefox (do you get AOL icons on your desktop when you download Firefox?) and that alone is enough reason to have no interest in it as a browser.

Let's do ourselves a favor, Richard, and agree to disagree. It's obvious you are a Netscape fan boy, and I never will be.


Arni Kromic on August 06, 2005 at 7:39 PM:

I can't agree that Netscape is the worst browser of _all_times_. Granted, I stopped using it when it went bad and I don't use it now. And it could be total crap now, I don't know, BUT it had its golden age once... there wasn't any other browser so good and usable as NS then. IE was just a joke then, and no other browser had anything to compete with.

Today I use Mozilla and Firefox. And in spite of the hype around Firefox, I still prefer Mozilla. FF has yet too many rough edges for my taste, so at this time I think the most complete and usable browser is Mozilla (minus a few nifty thingies Firefox has). I hope FF will evolve soon to the point it will become as flawless as Mozilla is now regarding the functionality.


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