When I read my Google news today and found out that AOL is no longer going to develop and support Netscape as of February 2008, the first thing that came to mind was: What the heck? I thought Netscape was already dead!
I always equated Netscape with older systems such as Windows 9x and SCO Unixware 7.1.2 (the only web browser that ran on its crappy GUI). I haven’t heard anyone who has used the browser in years. Everyone I know uses IE, Firefox or Safari. After AOL bought Netscape, I thought they distributed Netscape for a while and then gave up…….I didn’t think it was still out there.
So I decided to download it (while I still can) and try it out.
I was pleased to see that you could get the latest Netscape (version 9) for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. I downloaded the Mac OS X version and ran it for about an hour this morning after I imported my bookmarks.
Overall, I was shocked. This browser is as good as any other browser out there! The interface was elegant and easy to use, it has tabbed browsing, a bookmark bar at the top, customizable options and add-ons, and is very fast. All the plugins worked with ease (flash, etc.), and websites seem to have huge support for it. Many online photo-developing sites such as Blacks or Walmart don’t like the Camino web browser that I often use (Camino is a small version of Firefox that is lightening fast), but they had no problems with Netscape at all. In fact, no website I visited had any problems with Netscape. Netscape was fast and beautiful.
And I didn’t even know it still existed! This is probably a good thing because I would have been crushed upon hearing today’s news about its death.
Anyway, I can now say that it is a bad thing that Netscape is no longer with us, because it is a very nice web browser, and because it was the first commercial web browser (I remember using it for all my web browsing in 1994-1996). I believe the absence of public awareness is what caused its death - may it rest in peace.
However, lest we forget that Netscape released its source code as Open Source in 1998. The Open Source development of Netscape was called the Mozilla project and eventually led to the best web browser in the world: Mozilla Firefox. So, technically, Netscape still exists (in lineage only).