‘Die! Die! Die!’—Netscape 6 (Not Mozilla) Should Give Up The Ghost: A Preparatory Requiem

The fear of death is more to be dreaded than death itself.

Publilius Syrus, first century B. C.

Strike One: Last year, with great eagerness, I installed Netscape 6.0. It crashed my machine (a G4 Cube with 1024 MB RAM, running OS 9). I figured it was a fluke, so I uninstalled it, deleted the associated preferences, etc., and reinstalled it. It crashed me again. I uninstalled it. I moved on...

Strike Two: Some months ago, I once again installed Netscape 6.x, with equally great eagerness, onto my Mac (the same G4 Cube running OS 9 and OS X). It crashed in OS 9. I uninstalled that and moved on...

Strike Three: A couple of weeks ago, I installed, with waning eagerness, Netscape 6.2. This time, I installed the OS 9 version on my 9.2.1 partition and the X version on my 10.1 partition). Upon launching the OS 9 version, I browsed a bit, and it crashed. Later, when I was running OS X, I launched Netscape and browsed a bit with it. It worked okay, but during certain actions (like clicking on anything in the window), Iid get the "spinning beachball." I havenit uninstalled them, but I will soon.

Sure, a little crashing shouldnit make me give up, but still: Three strikes, Netscape Navigator. Yer out!

I have given up on Netscape, but I must confess my bias. I must admit that Microsoft has spoiled me with Internet Explorer, which Iive been using since version 3.0. At that time, I was one of those Netscape Navigator 3.x users who called IE "Internet Exploder." I proudly let it be known that I wouldnit use a Microsoft product, even though I used Office daily. But thatis "different," you see... grin

At some point in the past, I clicked on the IE 3.x icon (IE is included with Netscape on every Mac, you know) and havenit looked back since then. It met my two, basic criteria for a web browser: IE renders pages reasonably fast and is Mac-like, that subjective criteria that just means it feels good when using it on my Mac. Netscape fell out of favor soon thereafter. What can I say? IE is simply a better browser.

When Netscape 6 appeared, I held out hope that Netscape was finally fighting Microsoft back. I read with interest the news stories that chronicled the Mozilla browser (the open-source version of Netscape) and the version 6 Navigator. But the Navigator 6 introduction was a dud, a product released before its time. Couple this with AOLis acquisition of Netscape and what this hinted at (Netscape canit survive), and my transition to IE was complete.

Microsoft has the majority mind share as well as market share (I donit know anyone who uses Netscape), so itis high time that we put Netscape out of its misery. Netscape is the "Saturday Night Live" of the Internet. For the uninitiated: "Saturday Night Live" is a comedy television show that currently holds the late-Saturday-night slot on the NBC network. The show has been around forever, but it stopped being funny and relevant years ago. Lorne Michaels, the showis produce/creator, keeps the show on the air by sheer force of will, it seems, since many people appear to have better things to do on Saturday night.

Like Saturday Night Live, Netscape is the walking dead. Both could benefit from a little euthanasia.

Now, I hasten to add that I make a clear distinction between Netscape and Mozilla. I like Mozilla, which renders web pages faster than any other browser on the market. I believe, however, that Netscape should die a quick and merciful death. Mozilla offers a viable alternative for the continued existence of Navigatoris code base; hence, its soul will live on, if the market finds it worthy of extended life.

The other reasons I believe that Netscape should call it quits is because the web-browser field consists of heirs apparent that are poised to take the web browser to its next level, namely iCab and OmniWeb. Iim currently alternating between OmniWeb 4.1 and IE 5.1 as my OS X browser, and both have much to be praised. OmniWeb is the first app that I consider a "true" OS X application, Aqua motif and all, while Internet Explorer is still a browser worth assigning to "first choice" status.

The "AOL-ization" (elementary interface) of Netscape 6 makes it an unattractive application for those of us who prefer a little less "cheesiness" in our iNet experience. Netscape 6 has done for Navigator what XP has done for Windows (excuse the grammar, but that ainit no compliment), sign that itis time to give up the ghost.

Netscape the company and Netscape the browser should both be eulogized. They both were at the center of the advent of the Internet, at least, the popularized Internet that we all know, love and use. But there is a time and place for everything. The time is nigh for a "wake." Netscape the browser and Netscape the company have its place in the annals of the digital lifestyle. Its praises will be sung; its praises should be sung, but, dirges are sung as a closure. That is needed now for Netscape. Netscape, itis time to let that "younger" browsers take the stage. You had a good run, old friend; youive fought the good fight, but you lost miserably. So, go and enjoy your well-deserved rest. You will be missed.

William Cullent Bryant said it best in his poem, "Thanatopsis" (Greek for "meditation on death"):

Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world -- with kings,
The powerful of the earth -- the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre.

Rest in peace, Netscape. We will revere your memory.

Rodney O. Lain, like millions of other Mac users around the world, is embarrassed to say that he uses Internet Explorer more than any other web browser. When he isnit busy at his job as founding member and chairman of IEA (Internet Explorer Anonymous), he hypocritically bashes Microsoft with his "iBrotha" column at The Mac Observer, as well as with the occasional TMO editorial. He lives in Minnesota, where he has settled down and sold out to work for The Man.

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