The Future: The Mozilla Foundation and the End of Netscape

Thursday July 17th, 2003

There's a lot of confusion surrounding Tuesday's creation of the Mozilla Foundation and the disbanding of the Netscape browser development team.

While a major loss, the end of Netscape does not mean the end of Mozilla. There is no way that AOL can revoke the Netscape and Mozilla Public Licenses and make the code proprietary. The Mozilla code will continue to be available to all. AOL has also agreed to transfer the Mozilla trademark and other intellectual property (much of it dating back to when Mozilla was Netscape's mascot) to the new Mozilla Foundation. Netscape-owned hardware (such as the servers) will also be transferred to the new organisation. AOL will continue to employ some Netscape staffers, such as Asa Dotzler, for a couple of months to help with the transition.

The Mozilla Foundation marks the first time that the Mozilla project actually has a legal existence ( was always just a more informal group). This new organisation, which is hoping to gain non-profit status under California law, will continue's work of guiding development. Teams such as staff, drivers, reviewers and module owners will continue to work as before. In addition, there will be a new Board of Directors, made up of Mitchell Baker, Brendan Eich, Christopher Blizzard and some new faces, including Open Source Applications Foundation head Mitch Kapor. The Mozilla Foundation will be funded by donations from individuals and companies, such as Sun Microsystems and Red Hat. AOL will provide $2,000,000 of funding over the next two years.

Up until this point, has produced builds of Mozilla for development and testing purposes only, with end-users encouraged to download distributions from vendors such as Netscape. However, the new Mozilla Foundation plans to target end-users directly. The beginnings of this strategy can be seen with the redesign of the front page.

#63 congratulations on common sense

by jilles

Friday July 18th, 2003 4:37 AM

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I have been flamed quite a bit a few months ago when I questioned AOLs role in mozilla and the business plan behind Netscape. Im glad that Im not crazy and that AOL obviously reached the same conclusions as I did a few months back.

I am sorry for all those netscape employees who are currently facing unemployment though. They have done a great job on mozilla and I think all of us are gratefull of their work. I hope the mozilla project will continue to thrive as it has in the past year. I really like the new direction the development team has taken with the firebird, thunderbird and sunbird subprojects. Getting rid of the Netscape burden IMHO is a good thing. The Netscape brand was damaged by the browserwars and the netscape 6 and 7 products offered little advantage over the corresponding mozilla versions (aside from convenient packaging.