AOL Drops IE From AOL For Mac OS X, Replacing It With Netscape

Just when you thought the browser wars were over, AOL has thrown a new twist into it. ZDNet is reporting that the company has dropped Internet Explorer from its latest beta release of AOL for OS X. In its place, the company is using its own Netscape browser.

Netscape was bought by AOL in 1999 following Microsoftis dumping of Internet Explorer into the market as a free product. Netscapeis income came predominantly from sales of Netscape Navigator and Netscape Communicator until Microsoftis dumping tactics eliminated the value from Web browsers. Netscape then began to look for a buyer due to plummeting revenues, and was picked up by AOL.

Since that time, AOL has continued to use Microsoftis Internet Explorer browser to power Web surfing for its some 34 million subscribers, eschewing its own Netscape property. According to the ZDNet report, this is changing, at least within the confines of Mac OS X. From the article:

America Online has dropped Internet Explorer from a test version of its software for Mac OS X, the latest sign that the Internet giant wants a rematch in the browser wars with Microsoft.

AOL for Mac OS X version 2 includes an integrated browser using technology created by Netscape Communications, according to a note to beta testers describing the softwareis features, which was seen by CNET News.com. In addition, the upgrade includes a new "Aquafied" look "in the spirit" of OS Xis liquid-like user interface, as well as instant messaging and Buddy List support for chatting with Mac.com users, among other things, the note said.

"Iim not sure how this transfers into shareholder value" for AOL, said analyst Paul Kim of investment bank Kaufman Bros. "There is no way to monetize browsers. This is more like AOL saying, iHey, Iim not going to use Microsoftis products.i"

There is additional information in the article about the browser wars, AOLis use of Netscape in its Compuserve online service, and other related issues. We recommend it as a good read.