AOL will officially pull the plug on the Netscape Web browser next week, which raises the question: Netscape is still alive? The rise and fall of Netscape is a reminder of just how quickly technology changes – and a warning to approach battles against Microsoft cautiously. Netscape was founded in 1994, and quickly won customers by providing software that made it easy for people to navigate the Internet. Netscape went public a year later and saw its stock price nearly triple on its first day of trading. At one point, the company had an $8 billion market cap and 90% of the Web browser market. But soon it all went south. Microsoft introduced its Internet Explorer browser and began eating into Netscape's market share. Microsoft later paid AOL, which bought Netscape in 2000, $750 million to settle antitrust charges.
By the late 1990s, the handwriting was on the wall, and for the last several years the company has been little more than a footnote. Today, Netscape has less than 1% of the browser market. At the end of December, AOL announced it would stop supporting Netscape on February 1, but ended up giving the browser a one-month stay of execution. This week, the diehards who still use Netscape's browser received a notice telling them it was time to start using either the Firefox or Flock browsers — for some reason Netscape didn't suggest switching to Explorer – officially marking the end of an era. I remember using Netscape back in the old days when noone cared about IE, but the times of glory are definitely over.