America Online has released the final version of AOL Explorer, an alternative Internet Explorer-based Web browser that the company has been beta testing since last October.
The browser is a stand-alone application that features tabbed browsing, Web thumbnails and a built-in RSS feed aggregator.
A customizable side panel enables users to load third-party add-ons into the browser, such as a calendar or panel that displays incoming mail. AOL has also included its desktop search product as an optional download.
When asked why the company opted to build its own browser, AOL product marketing director Kerry Parkins told BetaNews that “Firefox showed there was a market,” but had “compatibility problems with sites.”
AOL wanted to “pursue a course where people could download and the browser just works,” Parkins said. “Once they got it installed, it just worked. All their favorites, everything.”
Surprisingly, AOL has also revived its Netscape browser, which is being developed at the same time as AOL Explorer. Despite the products offering similar features, AOL says the browsers are not competing products.