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.

#84 Re: Re: but how do they *feel*?

by Dobbins

Saturday July 19th, 2003 8:42 AM

You are replying to this message

The biggest loss is there is no longer a team where people can be ordered to fix bugs that stand in the way of a goal. Before a Netscape staffer could be ordered to work on Bug X. Now the foundation has to hope that someone will take the time to fix Bug X. Even if the foundation hires people to work on the code full time I see no posibility of them hiring a staff as large as Netscape provided, so at best there will be far fewer people who can be given a hard assignment to fix certain bugs. This will show up in even less ability to meet goals like those set up in the roadmaps. The second biggest loss is controlled enduser testing. Netscape was capable of setting 50 average users in a room and tracking how they used the product. That can't be replaced with reports from people who downloaded the software and may or may not file a bug report.