Engineer on Features

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-05-26 Print this article Print

Daniel Glazman, a former Netscape engineer who is now the CEO of French software developer Disruptive Innovations SARL, said he doubts AOL will add major features to Netscape Navigator or make significant changes to its core browser technology. "AOL does not have … the work force to make significant changes," Glazman said in an e-mail interview. "In my opinion, Netscape 7.2 new features will be Mozilla 1.7 new features."
Officials at the Mozilla Foundation declined to comment on the Netscape plans.
Glazman said he views AOLs Netscape release as more of a competitive move than as an aggressive re-entry into the browser wars. In particular, AOL has struggled with its Web strategy as subscribers to its Internet service have declined. "AOL needs a portal, and the only efficient one it has is," Glazman wrote. "But people who no longer have the Netscape browser on their browser are not going to visit just because it exists. AOL needs a browser having as its default home page." Analysts say there is an opportunity for competing browsers to make headway against Microsoft Corp.s market-dominating Internet Explorer browser. Microsoft holds a 93.9 percent market share in the desktop browser space with its various versions of IE, according to May data from Web analytics vendor Microsoft has been slow to upgrade features in IE and last year said it would stop standalone development of IE, instead melding the browser development into overall Windows development. Since winning the browser wars of the 1990s—when IE and Netscape Navigator went head to head in furiously releasing new features—Microsoft has stopped adding innovative browser features, said Joe Wilcox, an analyst at Jupiter Research, a division of Jupitermedia Corp. Take pop-up blocking, for example. Only now, with the planned release of a Windows XP update later this year, is Microsoft adding a feature that has been standard for years in other browsers such as Mozilla and Opera, Wilcox said. Click here to read more about Microsofts plans for Windows XP Service Pack 2. Among business users, Jupiter Research found that 87 percent use various versions of IE, but 25 percent also still use Netscape and another 11 percent use Opera, Wilcox said, noting that many users use more than one browser. "If 25 percent of business users are still using Netscape, thats still a viable market, so why not offer a refresh and new technology?" Wilcox said of AOLs Netscape plans. Even if AOL simply keeps Netscape Navigator updated with its Mozilla base, new releases of it help to raise the profile of alternatives to IE, said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Norwegian browser maker Opera Software ASA. Besides Netscape, Opera is one of the only commercial browser competitors to IE and has continued to rev regular new releases. Because AOL has yet to explain its overall Netscape Navigator strategy, von Tetzchner said, it is hard to know what impact an updated Netscape Navigator will have on the market. "Are they going to put 10 people on the continuing Netscape effort or 1,000 people?" von Tetzchner asked. "At this time, we dont know, but I think its good for the community to have choice. Its bad news if people are just using Internet Explorer." Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at for the latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion about productivity and business solutions. Be sure to add our enterprise applications news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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