Not so long ago, a war was being fought on the computers of every university student, businessman and teenaged geek. It was a bloody conflict, with many casualties. It was a war between what was then the best, most used browser ever made (Netscape Navigator 4 – now about the worst browser still in use), and the hideous spawn of a convicted monopoly (Microsoft’s Internet Explorer – now, as then, the worst thing to ever happen to the internet). This war will not soon be forgotten by those in the know. It was scarring.
The war has been over for some time now, with IE the clear and undisputed victor (versions 5 and 6 account for about 90% of browser traffic, apparently). But both browsers continued to develope, IE by adding its automatic image resizing, NN by releasing its source under the Netscape Public Licence, forming the Mozilla Project, rewriting the browser almost from scratch with total support for all web-related specifications and actually making a very good browser.
Now it appears that both browsers are dead. Microsoft will release no more versions of IE, though it will continue to develope (possibly with the addition of a helpful paperclip, we don’t know) as part of the Windows OS. You might recall that IE‘s integration into Windows was the whole point of their monopoly-abuse conviction, but that’s what republicans in the white house get you. Just weeks after MS‘s announcment, AOL, the owners of Netscape, announced that it had layed off all remaining Netscape staff. Navigator is officially dead.
From its burning corpse rises a phoenix (now renamed Firebird). More generally, Mozilla. AOL gave all Mozilla property (Trademarks, servers, $2m, etc.) to the new Mozilla Foundation for the continued developement of Mozilla, Firebird, Thunderbird, the newly released Sunbird and all other Mozilla-based projects.
So the two biggest browsers ever, within weeks of each other, are gone. Take this opportunity to go get a better one