Netscape Navigator, now owned by AOL, will no longer be supported after 1 March 2008, the company has said.
In the mid-1990s, as the commercial web began to take off, the browser was used by more than 90% of people online. Its market share has since slipped to just 0.6% as other browsers such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox have eroded its user base.
The company recommends that users upgrade their browser to either Firefox or Flock, which are both built on the same underlying technologies as Navigator.
Netscape was created by Marc Andreessen who as a student had co-authored Mosaic, the first popular web browser. His company Netscape Communications Corporation released the first version in 1994.
During its halcyon days it really felt like the internet and Netscape were really the same thing. Of course, other companies capitalised on Netscape’s success, notably Microsoft, which began to bundle IE with its Windows operating systems. Although this led to legal wrangles over anti-competitive behaviour, IE now dominates the browser landscape with an 80% market share.
For the past week Netscape users have been shown a message alerting them to the end of support for the browser. “Given AOL’s current business focus, support for Netscape browsers will be discontinued as of March 1st, 2008,” the message reads. It then suggests users upgrade to either Flock or Firefox. Firefox is the main competitor to IE, particularly in Europe where it has a 28% market share, according to some statistics. The open source browser’s development is coordinated by the Mozilla foundation, set up by Netscape staff made redundant in 2003. It has had more than 500 million downloads worldwide.