Netscape Navigator
(Netscape Communications®)
= Index DOT Html/Css by Brian Wilson =

Index DOT Html: Main Index | Element Tree | Element Index | HTML Support History
Index DOT Css: Main Index | Property Index | CSS Support History | Browser History

Platforms -4.x Macintosh: 68K, Power Mac
PC: Win9x, 3.X, NT [Intel and Alpha], 2000/XP
Unix: AIX, BSDI, HP-UX, IRIX, Linux, OSF, Sparc Solaris, SunOS
Other: Alpha, OS/2, VAX
Platforms 6.x+ Macintosh: OS 8.5-9.x, OSX
PC: Win95/98/ME, NT/2000/XP
Unix: AIX, BSDI, HP-UX, IRIX, Linux, OpenVMS, Solaris, Tru64
Other: BeOS, OS/2
About the
In mid-1994, Silicon Graphics founder Jim Clark collaborated with Marc Andreessen to found Mosaic Communications (later renamed to Netscape Communications.) Andreessen had just graduated from the University of Illinois, where he had been the leader of a certain software project known as "Mosaic". By this time, the Mosaic browser was starting to make splashes outside of the academic circles where it had begun, and both men saw the great potential for web browsing software. Within a brief half-year period, many of the original folk from the NCSA Mosaic project were working for Netscape, and a browser was released to the public.

Netscape quickly became a success, and the overwhelming market share it soon had was due to many factors, not the least of which was its break-neck pace of software releases (a new term was soon coined - "internet time" - which described the incredible pace at which browsers and the web were moving.) It also created and innovated at an incredible pace. New HTML capabilities in the form of "extensions" to the language were introduced. Since these capabilities were often flashier than what other run-of-the-mill browsers could produce, Netscape's browser helped cement their own dominance. By the summer of 1995, it was a good bet that if you were browsing the Internet, you were doing so with a Netscape browser - by some accounts Netscape had as much as an 80%+ market share.

With the launch of Windows 95 and a web browser of its own (Internet Explorer) in August 1995, Microsoft began an effort to challenge Netscape. For quite a while, Internet Explorer played catch-up to Netscape's continual pushing of the browsing technological envelope, but with one major advantage: unlike Netscape, Internet Explorer was free of charge. Netscape version 2.0 introduced a bevy of must-have breakthrough features (frames, Java, Javascript and Plug-ins) which helped distance it from the pack, even *with* its attendant price tag. Mid-1995 to late-1996 was a very busy time for both browsers; it seemed like every week one company or the other was releasing a new beta or final version to the public, each seemingly trying to one-up the other.

But slowly, Internet Explorer gained market share ground. By the fourth generations of both browsers, Internet Explorer had caught up technologically with Netscape's browser. As time went on, Netscape's market share diminished from its once-towering percentages.

In January 1998, Netscape made an announcement that their browser would thereafter be free, and also that the development of the browser would move to an open-source process. This came as wonderful news to many on the Internet. But the time between this announcement, and the actual delivery of Mozilla 1.0 would be a long road (over 4 years.) The process ended up taking much longer than originally anticipated, what with the Netscape/AOL merger and the late-hour decision to integrate an entirely new next-generation HTML rendering engine.

Even with the tantalizing promise for authors of finally having a wide-distribution browser that completely adheres to the official language standards for HTML, CSS, DOM and ECMAScript, the market-share that Netscape once held has mostly evaporated (by many accounts its market share is now down below 20%.) Its initial release of Netscape 6.0 was considered slow and buggy, and adoption was slow to occur. Now that Mozilla has finally reached what it considers to be a significant milestone in its development process (1.0 - which Netscape 7.0 is based on), perhaps those market share usage numbers will increase again...certainly the latest releases are very stable, much faster and support an ever-growing variety of standards and features.
Mozilla IS
Netscape 6+
Since work on Mozilla began, the real work and interesting news really happens there. Many people have asked why I also do not include coverage of Mozilla here on this site. The answer is: I already do - from what I can tell there are no significant differences of any kind between the Mozilla code and the corresponding Netscape code with respect to HTML/CSS support. The only difference is that Netscape is based on Mozilla code that is not always the most current. Mozilla support information IS listed here if you know how to interpret it.
The Future It doesn't look like Netscape will be much of a marketshare threat to anyone anymore. As already mentioned, the real work goes on with the Mozilla project now, but it is uncertain how this open source project will fare and progress now that its corporate parent has loosened its ties. The all-in-one suite approach that Mozilla has pursued up to its 1.0 milestone has been changing. The new stand-alone browser (Firebird) and email client (Thunderbird) projects attempt to trim down the mass that any application suite tends to carry with it. Will "diet Mozilla" attract a bigger audience? Time will, of course, tell.

Version Released Features

1.0B1 Oct. 1994 The First Beta of version 1 (version 0.9) The original release of the browser supports all basic HTML 2 elements and some limited HTML 3 functionality.
1.0 Dec. 1994 Final Release of version 1.0

1.1B1 Mar. 1995 The first Beta of version 1.1 added table support as well as many of its own new HTML elements and attributes.
1.1 Apr. 1995 Final Release of version 1.1

1.2B1 Jun. 1995 First Beta of version 1.2 which updated the user interface for Windows 95 and added no new HTML support.
1.2 Jul. 1995 Final Release of version 1.2

2.0B1 Oct. 1995 First Beta of the Navigator release added several HTML 3 elements, Frames and the ability to handle Java.
2.0B3 Dec. 1995 This version added the ability to process JavaScript
2.0 Mar. 1996 Final Release of version 2.0

3.0B1 Apr. 1996 First Beta which was originally titled Atlas, this release added many new plug-ins, and support for background colors in tables.
3.0B5 Jul. 1996 This version adds support for underlining, frame border control and Font FACE styles. It also adds new elements to allow for column layout (<Multicol>) and spacing control (<Spacer>)
3.0B7 Aug. 1996 The only new HTML feature in this version appears to be the ARCHIVE attribute to the APPLET element.
3.0-3.04 Aug. 1996-
Oct. 1997
Final Release of version 3. Point releases beyond this add no new HTML support, just address Javascript functionality and security bugs.

4.0B1 Dec. 1996 Preview release of 4.0 (Netscape Communicator.) This adds the new LAYER element that allows precise positioning control in documents.
4.0B2 Feb. 1997 Second preview release of 4.0 (Netscape Communicator.) This adds in-line layering, and Cascading/JavaScript Style Sheet Support.
4.0B3 Apr. 1997 Third preview release of 4.0 (Netscape Communicator.) Improves upon the very rudimentary style sheet support in Beta 2 (PR2.)
4.0B4/5 May. 1997 Fourth and fifth beta of 4.0. Beta 4 was a PC-only release with minor HTML improvements, while Beta 5 is cross-platform and adds the Netcaster push technology.
4.0-4.08 Jun. 1997-
Nov. 1998
Final Release of Communicator. Final tally adds more CSS support (much but not all of the CSS1 spec and the CSS positioning draft are implemented), minimal dynamic font and OBJECT element support. Point releases beyond this add no new HTML support, just address security bugs.

Jan. 1998 Netscape announces its browser will be free.
Also announced: Browser source code will be made available for free on the Internet.
Mozilla project begins

4.5B1 Jul. 1998 Various functionality improvements, but no new HTML or CSS support.
4.5B2 Sep. 1998 Beta 2.
4.5-4.8 Oct. 1998-
Aug. 2002
4.5 final release. Point releases beyond this add no new HTML support, just address bugs.

Nov. 1998 Netscape decides to integrate its new NGLayout rendering engine (Gecko) into Mozilla (v.6.0)
AOL Buys Netscape for a ~$4.3 billion stock transaction ($~8.98 billion by the time the sale was finalized.)
Jan. 2000 Mozilla project hits Milestone 13 (M13) - considered to be first "alpha" quality release of the project.

6.0B1 Apr. 2000 Netscape/AOL releases 6.0 PR1 - its first all new beta browser in several years. This release integrates the Mozilla code approximately from the Milestone 14 (M14) work.
6.0B2 Aug. 2000 Netscape/AOL releases 6.0 PR2. This release integrates the Mozilla work from ~ the Milestone 17 (M17) timeframe.
6.0B3 Oct. 2000 Netscape/AOL releases 6.0 PR3. This release integrates the Mozilla work from ~ the Milestone 18 (M18) timeframe.
6.0 Nov. 2000 Final release of version 6.0. Based on the Mozilla 0.6 milestone.
6.01 Feb. 2001 Update release based on Mozilla 0.6.1 milestone.
6.1PR1 Jun. 2001 Pre-release of 6.1.
6.1 Aug. 2001 Update release based on Mozilla 0.9.2. Includes bug fixes, and is much quicker and more stable than original 6.0 release.
6.2 Oct. 2001 Update release based on Mozilla 0.9.4 milestone.
6.2.3 May. 2002 Update release also based on Mozilla 0.9.4 milestone.

May. 2002 Mozilla finally reaches the 1.0 milestone

7.0PR1 May. 2002 Pre-release of 7.0, based on the Mozilla 1.0 RC2 code.
7.0 Aug. 2002 Final release of Netscape 7.0, based on the Mozilla 1.0.1 code. Deactivates the popular popup-blocking Mozilla feature by default.
7.01 Dec. 2002 Update release based on Mozilla 1.0.2. Re-instates the popup-blocking feature.
7.02 Feb. 2003 Update also based on Mozilla 1.0.2. Minor security and stability changes.
7.1 Jun. 2003 This update synchronizes Netscape with the Mozilla codebase of the time: Mozilla 1.4.

Dec. 2002 Major layoffs/reassignments at Netscape/AOL
May. 2003 Microsoft resolves a lawsuit with Netscape parent company AOL in a $750 million settlement. AOL will continue distributing Microsoft's Internet Explorer instead of Netscape.
Jul. 2003 AOL cuts Mozilla loose and transforms the open source project into a non-profit organization with 2 Million US dollars in seed funding. AOL's Netscape division suffers another major layoff round, cutting 50 employees.

Boring Copyright Stuff...