"I cannot believe that there will not be another version of Netscape. I just want AIM (and ICQ) integrated in my sidebar..... but be able to use the latest build of Mozilla". - Posted on netscape.public.general, Feb 14, 2004IT'S RARELY that a company statement raises eyebrows. But this one will do: America Online confirmed to the INQUIRER that it is working on an updated release of the Netscape browser.
To replace the aging version 7.1 - which was released in mid-2003. They also promise that this Netscape update will use the latest Mozilla engine as its core.
Not too long ago, I wrote an article titled "AOL may release a Netscape branded IE-launcher", where I screamed against the possibility of the company's marketing robots turning the Netscape browser product into an empty shell that would in turn launch Internet Explorer under the hood.
Back then, I said AOL should take advantage of the "de-facto outsourcing" of the Mozilla development - now in the hands of the independent Mozilla Foundation and programmers worldwide - simply taking the latest code and sticking the Netscape logo, plug-in(s) and other proprietary extensions present in Netscape on top of it.
Some readers told me that I was naive in demanding a future for the Netscape browser from AOL, that it was "a lost cause". The usual handful complainers, not surprisingly, even filled my inbox saying that I was nuts, including babbling on why IE "rulez so much" compared to Mozilla based browsers.
On the other extreme, the Mozilla advocates with what I call the usual "slashdot attitude" pointed to the Mozilla Foundation's binary releases as the path to the future, giving me a couple of bad reasons as to why I should forget the extras in Netscape 7.1 that I use on a daily basis - and which are not present in Mozilla.
For the record: it's got AIM and ICQ integrated in the browser's sidebar, support for "@netscape.net" webmail accounts in the Mail program, includes the free "Netscape Radio" program, and more. In short, the Mozilla aficionados basically told me to "get with the programme" and switch from Netscape 7.1 to "the latest Mozilla".
After the Save Netscape online petition reached two thousand signatures, I sent my original article and petition URL to a few AOL execs, the kind of folks that "should care" - and people who I now think should remain nameless for protection from any possible Volish dirty tricks. Frankly, I didn't expect much.
Finally, last week, I almost fell off my chair when I received an official reply:
"I am writing you in response to your e-mail to [exec name here]. The next (Netscape Browser) version will be a "point" release based on the latest Mozilla code."
The message continued saying that this version "will be made available in the very early summer timeframe". For the record: this came straight from AOL's Corporate Communications department.
Now Netscape 7.1 users can rejoice in anticipation. And this is proof for those once skeptic readers who told me "why bother?" that there's some truth in a local [Ed: doesn't it exist up there??] saying which goes "don't complain (now), if you never complain". It's a rare event in this galaxy, and it doesn't happen too often... but sometimes, just sometimes, corporations do listen.
I now have my fingers crossed, hoping that AOL delivers Netscape 7.2 - or whatever they want to call it - as promised. µ
So that's why she's smiling…
How many Zuckbucks to the pound?
Alexa, is this exploitation?