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Consider these comments from Netscape President Jim Bankoff, made to the Reuters news organization:
"The browser is a crown jewel. However, six months from now, you won't consider Netscape to be a browser company," he said. Instead of continuing the battle against Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Netscape will instead focus on developing Netscape Netcenter as a Web portal, incorporating content from other Time-Warner publishing outlets.
While you will still see parts of Netscape browsers being incorporated into distinct tools designed for vertical markets, such as a version for the Sony Playstation 2, the company will not be actively focusing on browser development, officials said. Instead, AOL officials were negotiating with Microsoft to continue using IE as the browser of choice for AOL, while other alternatives, such as "Komodo," were under consideration. Komodo technology would let the AOL service be used by any Web browser. AOL's choice would reverberate throughout the Internet, as AOL currently has 29 million users: an enormous block of users that would be impossible for any Web developer to ignore.
is this the end for netscape???
Having said that there even seem to be better Open Source browsers now (Konqueror) so i'm not sure there anything left to praise about it - Opera wins in speed, usability and footprint.
1. The AOL (owner of Netscape) and MS talks broke down today [link to story] [cnnfn.cnn.com].
2. Netscape announced version 6.1 [webmasterworld.com] recently, with a way to easily incorporate Instant Messaging into website links for easy, real-time customer service.
I don't think the Time Warner-AOL-Netscape team is going to throw in the towel, And they've got a solid partnership with Sun Microsystems, who is no Microsoft lover either. Recent Microsoft shenaningans with Java have increased Sun's desire to compete.
there was NEVER a choice between Netscape and IE...at least not in any situation I've ever worked in...I've always had to build sites to work well at all resolutions on all possible platforms from palm pilots to mainframes...the idea of optimising for a specific situation is getting ever more unrealistic as new ways of accessing web content are made available
Microsoft does their best work when they are in the #2 position. When they are #2, they work very hard to make a good product; they take the features of the competition and make them better. When they get to #1, though, they don't have any ideas to steal from the #1 product, and just start hacking in every feature that a program manager can come up with.
Look at Excel vs. 1-2-3, Word vs. WordPerfect, NT versus Novell, IE versus Netscape, etc., etc. Compare all of those to what's happening with SQL Server right now (SQL Server is #2 behind Oracle).
I was shocked :O the other day to see that Netscape 6 has completely fallen off the stats at WebSnapShot [websnapshot.mycomputer.com], however, in many ways I feel this is a good thing. As a designer I can get a lot more from IE but I can only take advantage of this if everyone is using it...
I just hope that Microsoft break the cycle that XOC discusses above. I think that they do need someone biting at their heels but Netscape are a long, long, long way from the heels of IE at the moment.
thing is that it's not as simple as that...you can do more right here right now...but you can only do so by risking the possibility of the next generation of browsers leaving you with a major redesign...it's the standards that ensure backwards compatibility and future proofing...the further you move away from them the more you will have to spend the rest of your career frantically checking each new browser release
which is why MS don't produce a standards compliant browser...they need to tie you in to their MS only web
We're working on code for IE5+ only at the moment (and we're sticking to the W3C guidelines - as far as possible). IE5 just behaves far more predictably than NN6 and most other browsers.
We could all write perfect W3C compliant code, but we'd still be foolish not to be "frantically checking each new browser release".
At the end of the day it's an idealistic debate. I'm by no means MS's biggest fan. IE is still full of problems and the advanced code we are writing behaves erratically as we move from version 5 to 5.5 - who knows what will happen on version 6 and XP. One thing is for sure: MS aren't going to be altruistic about the net as their dominance increases.
it's got various interactive elements, it's got some animation...I've just avoided any technologies that have cross browser problems, and avoided any solutions that don't degrade reasonably gracefully
there are things I could have done quicker or even slightly slicker, and I could easily have cut down on preparation and planning time...but I've saved all that back by knowing that it would take something pretty earth shatteringly stupid before any new browser will break the site
you pays your money and you takes your choice
I don't do much work for the w-w-web but when I do I usually follow the rules you state above. More frequently I am developing web application interfaces for browser specific audiences.
The current project had a spec of IE5+ but we opted to try and include NN6 for portability reasons. The trouble we had with *bugs* in NN6 made it a nightmare. Things like event cascades get completely confused in Netscape. We ended up having to write everything 20 different ways to find one that worked as it should in NN6. IE isn't perfect, but I was pleased when we dumped Netscape 6 ;)!
Becuase of this discussion we tried it in Opera 5 this morning (not a target browser) and most things worked as expected :).
Mozilla still has yet to achieve that status and now its too late since Opera has won my heart - I got used to the seemingly strange interface and have found a browser that really is a powerful tool. I used to use netscape at work and IE at home, now I use Opera both places and will try to convert anyone I can over aswell. Once you get used to it its much more efficient to use.
I will stop sounding like an advert now.. :)
I'm hearing (but not yet reading) that AOL 7 will be built with a customized Gecko engine. How customized is the question. Will we all need an AOL account to check our pages in their browser? Or will Netscape be a good enough check?
I started running an AOL account again just for compatibility checks. Too many weird reports from the AOL crowd during the time I didn't do this.
That said, they aren't terribly open about their plans. I know that they've built a browser wrapper that allows them to transparently switch from IE to Mozilla and back, that they'll be releasing 6.1 final (with no further betas), after which they'll start on Netscape 7.0, etc. but only because this stuff tends to leak out by accident. They can't sanitize all communications between employees and non-employees or we wouldn't know anything ;)
The articles claiming that Netscape would abandon browse development were actually pretty funny. I went back and read the quotes, but I still can't figure out who originated this idea that they planned on dropping out of browser development.
And I suspect I'll personally stick to Mozilla as long as it continues to have more of the features I want and to butcher my pages less than Opera and IE.