The Netscape Store Web site, which sells CD copies of the browser suite, had listed Aug. 3 as a ship date for the browser. News that Netscape Navigator 7.2 would be available on that date spread this week among online message boards and on Slashdot.
The word from AOL: Not so fast.
The date referred not to a general release but to a deadline for placing early orders of the browser update on CD, said AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein on Thursday.
"It was not a release date, but online users can order a CD up to that date to be sent by mail after that," Weinstein said.
But the date isnt too far off target. Weinstein confirmed that Netscape 7.2 will be available soon after that date—within the first two weeks of August, both on CD and as a free download from Netscape.com. He declined to give an exact date.
By Thursday, the Netscape Store had changed the Aug. 3 shipping date with a note reading that the "7.2 CD will ship soon."
Netscape 7.2 is the first update in a year to the once market-leading Web browser. It is based on the same code and Gecko rendering engine as the latest Mozilla browser suite, Version 1.7.
Many Netscape users and market analysts had expected AOL to stop releasing new versions of Netscape after AOL in July 2003 spun out the Mozilla open-source browser development group it had created about five years earlier. Mozilla is now its own independent foundation.
In May, AOL officials had confirmed that AOL was working on a Netscape update but said little about whether the move was an effort to more aggressively revive the Netscape browser or to simply maintain it.
All indications from AOL, though, point to a maintenance release with Version 7.2. More than anything, Netscape 7.2 will bring the browser in line with security and feature updates that Mozilla has undergone in the past year.
"The 7.2 upgrade is more of an iterative upgrade, and it fixes security issues," Weinstein said. "It is based on the Mozilla core, so there are not a lot of additive features."
Among the new features in the release will be performance enhancement, password manager improvements, improved junk mail filters and support for vCards, Weinstein said. Netscape 7.2, like past releases, also is likely to include AOL-specific features such as a new Netscape toolbar and AOL Instant Messenger.
Netscape 7.2 will be available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.