R.I.P. Netscape

The Internet marks a major milestone this month -- but chances are, hardly anybody will notice. AOL LLC, the current owner of Netscape Navigator, will end support for the pioneering browser on Feb. 1.

It's a humble end for Navigator, which, as the world's first commercial browser in 1994, ushered millions of users onto the Web and helped spawn the dotcom gold rush. At one point, parent company Netscape controlled more than 70 percent of the browser market.

But that was before Microsoft-which, until then, had largely ignored the Internet-suddenly changed course, launching Internet Explorer (IE) in 1995.

During the "browser wars" of the next few years, when both companies piled on feature after feature, IE overtook Navigator, whose parent company was acquired by AOL in 1998. IE now controls at least 80 percent of the market. Netscape: less than 1 percent.

About the Author

Anne Stuart, the former executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner, is a business technology freelance writer based in Boston, Mass.