Too Cool for Internet Explorer

Friday, July 25, 2008

The World Wide Web unofficial History 3/3

Here and now

1997, second preview release of Netscape Communicator 4: CSS/JSS support. Third preview of NC 4: Improvements to the CSS support. Fourth and fifth preview release: Minor HTML improvements in Beta 4, introduction of the Netcaster push technology.

HTML 4.0 was released.

Netscape Communicator 4 Final released with: More CSS support (much, but not all of CSS1), minimal dynamic font and OBJECT element support.

Netscape announces an initiative to retain its browser share by forming 100 industry partnerships. The streamlined Navigator 4.0 includes Netcaster, basic email, and calendar software. Netscape unveils the Netcenter Web site, transforming the corporate into a site featuring news, software, and chat groups.

Internet Explorer 4.0 was released in September, with the latest beta version of Windows 98.

1998, Netscape announces that all future Netscape browsers will be free of charge and also that the development of the browser will be open-source. is found. Grommit aka Netscape 5.0 announced based on Communicator code, soon to be cancelled in favor of Gecko. website launches. A dedicated internal team and the Web site guide the open source code to developers.

Netscape releases programming source code for its Communicator software. This is the first code source release, still based on the Classic Communicator. Mozilla Classic is still available on the site.

The US Justice Department and 20 state attorneys general file an antitrust case alleging Microsoft abuses its market power to thwart competition, including Netscape.

In a legal case brought by the US Department of Justice and twenty U.S. states, Microsoft was accused of breaking an earlier consent decree, by bundling Internet Explorer with its operating system software. The department took issue with Microsoft's contract with OEM computer manufacturers that bound the manufacturers to include Internet Explorer with the copies of Microsoft Windows they installed on systems they shipped.

Allegedly, it would not allow the manufacturer to put an icon for any other web browser on the default desktop in place of Internet Explorer. Microsoft maintained that integration of its web browser into its operating system was in the interests of consumers.

Microsoft asserted in court that IE was integrated with Windows 98, and that Windows 98 could not be made to operate without it. Australian computer scientist Shane Brooks later demonstrated that Windows 98 could in fact run with IE files removed. Brooks went on to develop software designed to customize Windows by removing "undesired components", which is now known as LitePC. Microsoft has claimed that the software did not remove all components of Internet Explorer, leaving many dynamic link library files behind.

According to a study by a market researcher, Netscape cedes browser-share lead to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Netscape Communicator 4.5 released. Various functionality improvements, but no new HTML or CSS support. Only Bug fixing. Netscape 5.0 cancelled in favor of a completely new product, based on new technology (Gecko aka Raptor).

AOL buys Netscape, Netscape as an independent company ceases to exist. posts the following two statements regarding Mozillas position after the merger: "fear and loathing on the merger trail" and "Steve Case on Mozilla". Also: Thanks Mozilla (Wired).

Mozilla is not a web browser. Mozilla is a framework for building web applications using web standards like CSS, XML and RDF. The Mozilla Application Suite is a complete set of web applications (browser, email client, news client, chat client and more).

Mozilla code is used in Netscape 6 and 7, and in other web browsers such as Firefox and Camino, chat clients, news clients, email clients, games, and other types of web applications for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Mozilla is an open-source web development project developing the program code used in the Mozilla Application Suite (also known as SeaMonkey).

Browsers based on Mozilla code (Mozilla, Firefox, & Camino) is the second largest browser family on the Internet today, representing about 30% of the Internet community. Mozilla browsers are known to have very good web standards support.

1999, HTML 4.0.1 was released, introducing Cascading Style Sheets.

Internet Explorer 5.0 was released.

2000, Netscape 6.0 "Final" released, based on Mozilla 0.6 - regarded by many as the biggest mistake in Netscape history. Many old users finally switch to Internet Explorer. Market share is dropping even more.

2001, Netscape 6.01 was released, based on Mozilla 0.6. Netscape's homepage gets a facelift, almost complete shift to entertainment and news portal. now runs on AOL servers, not on Netscape servers. Netscape 6.1 was released, based on Mozilla 0.9.2.

Netscape 6.2 released, based on Mozilla 0.9.4 - it's finally time to switch to Netscape 6. Netscape 6.2.1 was released, based on Mozilla 0.9.4.

Rumors of the next major Netscape release surface. Codename "Mach V", probably Netscape 7.

August 27: Internet Explorer 6.0 was released with Windows XP.

2002, Netscape 6.2.2 was released. Yet another minor release based on Mozilla 0.9.4. Preparations took place for Mozilla's major 1.0 release. Release Candidate 1 is available for download.

Mozilla Phoenix 0.1 was released.

Netscape 6.2.3 was released, based on Mozilla 0.9.4. Netscape 7.0 Preview Release was released, based on Mozilla RC2.

Netscape Communicator 4.8 released.

Netscape 7.0 Final released, based on Mozilla 1.0.1 - Netscape deactivates the Mozilla Popup-Blocker.

Netscape 7.01 was released, based on Mozilla 1.0.2 - Netscape learned the lesson and reinstates the Popup-Blocker.

December: "Black Wednesday". Mayor layoffs at Netscape headquarters. From the approx. 75 programmers working on Netscape and Mozilla browser software only 6 programmers are left to directly work on Netscape. The rest is either fired or relocated with AOL to work on other things, for example Gecko (HTML rendering engine) or AOL Communicator (Standalone email client).

2003, Steve Case resigns as AOL chairman, but will remain a member of the AOL board.

Netscape releases an AOL-free version of Netscape 7.01 (i.e. without the usual add-ons).

Netscape releases Netscape 7.02, based on Mozilla 1.0.2 - a minor release aimed to fix stability and security problems. The next major Netscape version is currently under development. Codenamed Buffy, Netscape 7.1 (based on Mozilla 1.4) will probably be released in July or August 2003.

May 7: Microsoft online chat, Brian Countryman, Internet Explorer Program Manager, declared that on Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer would cease to be distributed separately from the operating system (IE 6 being the last standalone version); it would, however, be continued as a part of the evolution of the operating system, with updates coming bundled in operating system upgrades. Thus, Internet Explorer and Windows itself would be kept more in sync. However, a new standalone version, IE 7 was released since then.

May 29: Microsoft is paying $750 million to AOL Time Warner as part of a wide-ranging settlement that also calls for the companies to jointly cooperate on software distribution and digital media. As part of the deal announced Thursday, the companies will drop pending litigation, including an antitrust complaint filed by AOL Time Warner's Netscape Communications unit in January 2002 against Microsoft. AOL also agreed to a seven-year royalty-free license of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. You don't have to be an expert to see that this could basically be the last nail to Netscape's coffin.

June 23: Safari 1.0 Web browser was released by Apple Inc, based on the Konqueror rendering engine.

June 30: Netscape 7.1 was released.

July 15: gets a new home: The Mozilla Foundation.

"The Mozilla Foundation" is a new non-profit organization that will serve as the home for

As before, will coordinate and encourage the development and testing of Mozilla code. The Mozilla Foundation will also promote the distribution and adoption of our flagship applications based on that code. AOL, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, and other companies will continue to support Mozilla through the Foundation.

What this means for the Mozilla browser and other products and technologies: more innovation from the open source developers and a greater focus on end users.

Netscape (the company) is dead. Long live Mozilla. Major layoffs at Netscape. The company logo gets removed from the Netscape building. There is no Netscape company anymore, only the brand name is left and in the hands of AOL.

A few of the Netscape programmers join the AOL team, but most are fired. This was a disaster for Mozilla, because many programmers working on Mozilla were paid by Netscape.

Netscape 7.1 will probably be the last release.

2004, Netscape has mutated into an Internet Service provider. It supposedly ships with Internet Explorer. AOL stops selling Netscape CDs and handbooks. Somebody please turn off the lights!

March: According to AOL is going to release a new Netscape version.

This is the End of Netscape? Not the End of Netscape? What's on AOL's mind these days?

There will be a new version of the Netscape Suite. Based on Mozilla 1.7, Netscape 7.2 will feature the usual AOL add-ons. Mozilla 1.7 was released on June 18th 2004.

The Netscape 7.2 was released. This new version, was based on Mozilla 1.7.2 and featuring the usual AOL add-ons. Sadly, only the English language version was available. What's more: shortly after its release some serious security problems were detected in Mozilla 1.7.2 and therefore also Netscape 7.2.

Those security bugs were fixed with Mozilla 1.7.3, but so far (September 2004) no update of Netscape 7.2 has been made available. That means, using Netscape 7.2 can not be recommended, which makes Netscape 7.2 the literal dead fish in the water only days after its release. To create Netscape, AOL had to hire external Contractors to do the work (some of them ex-Netscape programmers).

September 30: AOL sells the old Netscape server software (Enterprise servers) to Redhat. Redhat plan to release them as Open Source and incorporate the software into its Linux. It looks to me as if Redhat are trying to gain some profit from the name Netscape, which still sounds good to many people on the internet. As a consequence, AOL now has only the rights for the Netscape browser, the portal in their possession.

October 12: AOL shuts down, a site which has been a great source for HTML and JavaScript programming over the years. is now trying to get the contents of the server to publish them on their site. Interestingly enough, AOL is celebrating Netscape's 10th birthday this week as well. How ironic.

Mozilla Firefox 1.0 was released.

Netscape updates their browser with a program based on Firefox.

2005, after a release based on Firefox 0.9.3 a second prototype was released. This new browser, by now known as Netscape 8, is supposed to feature special security enhancements, such as anti-fishing mechanisms.

Version 2.0 of Safari, was released on April 29, and runs only on Mac OS X 10.4.x (Tiger) or later.

Netscape 8.0 was released on May 19th 2005. It is largely based on Firefox 1.0.3, but has also the ability to switch to IE's rendering engine ("Trident"). Netscape 8 is produced by a company in Canada for AOL.

July 2005: Following's step to discontinue the MozillaSuite, a small group of free developers announces to continue working on the Suite. The new project is codenamed "Seamonkey".

August 8th, 2005: The Mozilla Foundation has announced the creation of the Mozilla Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary that will continue the development, distribution and marketing of Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird.

After finding security problems with the new Netscape 8 browser, AOL/Netscape releases updates.

September 2005: Rumors about Netscape 9.0 surface.

December 19: Microsoft announced that it would no longer support Internet Explorer for the Macintosh, and recommended using other Macintosh browsers such as Safari.

2006, Crazy stuff is going on at AOL headquarters, and of course, more lay-offs.

Mozilla Firefox 2.0 was released.

2007, Netscape is reportedly working on a new version of Netscape, dubbed "Netscape 9". This new version of the browser will once again be a standalone product (i.e. lacking an e-mail/news component such as Netscape used to have up to version 7.x) and will be using Firefox as its core.

Netscape 9 will be tightly integrated into the user-based website Contrary to Netscape 8.x, which was developed by a third-party company, the new browser was being developed "in-house", i.e. there were actually Netscape programmers working on it.

June 22: Apple released Safari 3.0.2 for Windows.

October 2007: Netscape 9.0RC1 has been released. The new splash screen sports a classic Netscape 2/3 logo (a good sign?):

The winner of the splash screen design contests.

Internet Explorer 7.0 was released.

In other news: The "social" has been re-launched as a classic news portal.

December 28: Netscape (the browser) is dead. AOL has finally shut down Netscape for good. Browser development will seize on February 1st, 2008. The glory that once was Netscape will survive in the name of an internet portal only.

2008, Mozilla Firefox 3.0 was released.

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