Netscape Announces Cross-Platform Netscape 9 to be Developed In-House
Sunday February 4th, 2007
The official Netscape Blog has announced that Netscape 9 is under development. Like the current Netscape Browser 8, this release will presumably be based on Mozilla Firefox. According to the announcement, Netscape 9 will be a standalone browser (lacking components like a mail client or Web page editor) and will have tight integration with the Netscape.com website, which was relaunched as a Digg-style user-driven news and current events portal last year. A subsequent post revealed that Netscape 9 will be released simultaneously for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Netscape Browser 8 is only available for Windows.
The Netscape 9 announcement was cross-posted to The Netscape Unofficial FAQ by Netscape Champion Jay Garcia, who is in a position to know about Netscape's browser plans. In posts elsewhere on the site, Garcia has confirmed that Netscape once again employs its own programming staff (development of Netscape Browser 8 was outsourced to Mercurial Communications) and that the company is also considering resuming support for Netscape 7.2, the last version of Netscape to include features like Netscape Mail and Netscape Composer.
The Netscape 9 announcement includes a small screenshot (the menu bar indicates that it's based on Firefox 2) and states that the browser will feature Live Bookmarks (a Firefox feature that was dropped from Netscape Browser 8). It will also include the Netscape Friends' Activity Sidebar and the Netscape Sitemail Notifier, two extensions previously released for Firefox. Other extensions that integrate with Netscape.com will also be built in. New information about Netscape 9 will be released every Tuesday; the first such update was the announcement that the browser will be cross-platform, coupled with a screenshot of a stylish new FTP view.
Jason Calacanis, the former General Manager of Netscape who was responsible for the transformation of Netscape.com into a user-driven news site, has called Netscape 9 the "second half of the relaunch of Netscape that I planned". Garcia says that Netscape 9 will be released in the "next month or two".
Netscape started the Mozilla project in 1998. Netscape 6, based on what is now known as the Mozilla Application Suite (since discontinued and replaced by the community-driven SeaMonkey), was launched in 2000 with Netscape 7 following in 2002. In 2003, Netscape, now a division of AOL, laid off all the Netscape developers and ceased its day-to-day involvement with the Mozilla project. At the time, Netscape said that further browser releases were unlikely. In 2004, the company changed its mind and released Netscape 7.2, including a version of the Netscape Toolbar developed by the Mozdev Group.
Later that year, Netscape contracted Mecurial to create a new Netscape Browser prototype, which was developed into Netscape Browser 8. This version represented a new direction for Netscape, dropping the non-browser features like mail and only being released for Windows. It was also the first Netscape edition to be based on Firefox, though the Trident rendering engine used by Microsoft Internet Explorer was also embedded in a controversial move to maximise site compatibility. The browser also included anti-phishing tools, which have since become a must-have feature in all modern browsers. Netscape Browser 8.1, released in 2006, added features like improved support for feeds and a spyware scanner. The current release is version 8.1.2.
It remains to be seen whether Netscape 9 can increase the usage share of the browser pioneer, which has been in decline for a decade. Netscape's share has fallen from over 80 percent in the mid-Nineties to as low as less than one percent today.
#13 RE: Why?
Tuesday February 6th, 2007 7:37 AM
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Actually, I use Netscape 8 on my wife's machine. Why? Because I can have it set to Firefox mode for most of her browsing, yet force it over to IE mode for her *.msn.com pages that she uses that WANT IE.
Before Netscape 8 I tried the old "Use this for everything, use this for only certain pages." As you all can guess, she ended up using IE for everything, since in her mind it worked everywhere she wanted to go, so she'd "forget" to switch.
So Netscape 8 might not be "real" Firefox, but for what she needs, it fits the bill perfectly. It's also handy for people in companies whose intranet sites still require IE.