Netscape bows out

So, it’s finally come to this. After a long and lingering illness, the Netscape Navigator browser is dead. AOL, current owners of the product, have announced that they won’t continue to develop or support the software after February 1 2008, and are recommending that users switch to Firefox.

This brings a little tear to the eye (yes, we do sometimes get sentimental about software) – Netscape was the first browser most of us used, and back in the days of the mid-1990s browser wars it commanded a market share of over 90%. As recently as April last year it was rated the “best tech product of all time” by PC World Magazine.

More than that, though, it was a direct descendant of the first ever browser, NCSA Mosaic, developed by Marc Andreesen and Eric Bina at the University of Illinois and released in 1993.

It’s hard to say whether it was Microsoft’s aggressive marketing and bundling of Internet Explorer or Netscape’s own failure to release decent new versions that ultimately did for Navigator, but after 15 intense years it’s assured of a place in web history.

(Image: from termie's flickr stream)

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