Back when I started with Critical Mass in 2000, the browser wars were still hotly contested but it was already clear that Netscape was losing. Standards were slowly (finally) creeping into the mix, and Netscape was on the wrong side of the fence.
Despite being the IPO that really kicked off the first internet gold rush, Netscape just didn’t have the business clout to keep it going. Netscape’s browser was free (so no revenue), and its web server was not having the same kind of hot sales everyone had hoped for (it was later sold to Sun, where it became iPlanet, and has mostly withered).
Netscape the company was later bought by AOL, which put the Netscape software on life support. Subsequent versions were accepted unenthusiastically, and only the spawn of Netscape — Firefox — has had any significant impact.
But today, things are different. AOL has announced that Netscape will be no more come 1 February 2008. The browser that so many of us loved back in the “old days” will finally find its peace in death. The last version will be supported — albeit loosely, given its percentage of use — but for all intents and purposes, Netscape will be turned off.
It’s the end of another era, folks. Hold a moment of silence for the soon-to-be-forgotten.