Netscape Tries Again With 7.0

Signaling the possibility of a closer connection between AOL and the Netscape browser, Netscape Communications unveils Netscape 7.0.
Netscape Communications, not yet ready to throw in the towel in the dwindling browser wars, unveiled the Netscape 7.0 browser Thursday.

The AOL Time Warner subsidiary's latest browser is more tightly intertwined with AOL's family of Web brands, the Netscape browser faces a nearly overwhelming opponent in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. Since Netscape's heyday as the Web's premier browser, it has steadily lost ground to Microsoft's effort.

When the previous version of the browser, Netscape 6.0, was launched in November 2000, Netscape still managed to hold onto 12.44 percent of the market, as opposed to the 87.53 percent held by IE, according to WebSideStory's StatMarket. Now, according to StatMarket, Netscape can only boast 3.4 percent of the market, while IE holds sway over 96 percent of the market.

But AOL's subscriber base, which it now claims to be at 35.1 million (including international customers and customers of its discount ISP, CompuServe), could conceivably prove a shot in the arm for the ailing browser. For the moment, AOL continues to utilize IE as its browser, but Netscape 7.0 may indicate a changing of the guard.

"The growing momentum at Netscape and across all AOL Time Warner's Web brands reinforces our commitment to providing consumers with continued choice in online content, tools and services, and the release of Netscape 7.0 is yet another example," said Joel Davidson, executive vice president of AOL's Web Properties Group. "By more tightly integrating world-class content from the AOL Time Warner family of Web brands across Netscape, we are providing even more benefits to consumers."

Additionally, the company has begun testing Netscape with its ISP, launching a version of CompuServe which utilizes the browser.

Netscape 7.0 includes a number of new features intended to appeal to the consumer, including:

  • Quick Launch, which speeds the start-up time for the browser
  • Tabbed Browsing, which lets users keep track of multiple sites or pages simultaneously by maintaining numerous sites as tabbed pages within a single browser window
  • Click-to-Search, which allows users to run a search on any word or phrase in the text of a web page by highlighting it and choosing "Web Search;" the results appear in a separate window and in the Search tab in My Sidebar
  • Instant Messaging, the AOL Instant Messenger built into Netscape 7.0 includes several new features, including support for Buddy Icons, file transfers and Buddy Alerts; Netscape 7.0 also provides built in access to the ICQ service
  • Netscape Mail, which has been enhanced with features such as Quick Search and simplified Mail Filters to make it easier for consumers to efficiently organize and manage their online communications.

Netscape said that concurrent with the U.S. launch, it is launching localized versions of the new browser in the U.K., Canada, France, Germany and Japan. Additionally, the company said Traditional Chinese and Spanish versions are available for download.

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