November 30, 2004 8:00 AM PST

New Netscape embraces Firefox, IE

In the market for a hybrid engine? Netscape's new Web browser might be just the ticket.

As of 8 a.m. PST Tuesday, Netscape fans were test-driving a prototype Netscape browser that runs on two different browsing engines: the Mozilla Foundation's Gecko engine, which powers up the Mozilla, Firefox and older Netscape browsers, and Microsoft's Internet Explorer engine, which many consider the de facto Web standard.

The prototype's release follows earlier reports that the AOL unit planned a comeback for the Netscape browser and portal, as well as indications that the new browser would include some surprises under the hood.


What's new:
Netscape is beginning testing of a prototype browser that runs two different browsing engines--Mozilla's Gecko and Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Bottom line:
The ability to let people switch between IE and Gecko could help Netscape capitalize on the success of upstart Firefox.

More stories on Firefox

It also follows a years-long pattern of browser bet-hedging in which AOL has maintained its Netscape browser unit while supporting Microsoft's competing IE browser.

As part of the settlement of its antitrust dispute with Microsoft, AOL renewed its license to use IE with its proprietary online service. AOL in 2001 briefly considered browsing software that would switch between engines. More recently, AOL said it would build a standalone browser based on IE.

AOL's motivation in resuscitating the Netscape browser comes down to the same reason it acquired Netscape in the first place: the portal. AOL expects to reap revenue from the free browser by directing more people to, just as Microsoft has turned its MSN portal into a Web heavyweight in large part through Internet Explorer.

The ability to let people switch between IE and Gecko could help Netscape capitalize on the success of Firefox. While IE comes preinstalled on the vast majority of computers and many Web sites are written specifically to work with the Microsoft browser, Mozilla-based browsers have won a following as IE has battled chronic security woes.

Microsoft's market share slide
Tallies released last week by Dutch Web traffic analyst showed that IE had dipped below the 90 percent market share mark for the first time in years, confirming a downward trend seen in other surveys released since millions of Web surfers started trying out Firefox. OneStat's survey indicated that Firefox has picked up what market share IE has lost.

Now Netscape has to find a way to differentiate itself both from the IE browser that comes default on nearly all computers and from the Firefox browser that originated at Netscape.

Before it was acquired by AOL, Netscape launched the Mozilla open-source effort that produced Firefox. AOL owner Time Warner spun off the Mozilla Foundation as a nonprofit last year.

With Tuesday's release, Netscape is betting that ensuring site compatibility through the IE option, providing general surfing security with the default Gecko engine, and offering an easier interface for some of Firefox's more advanced features will make the browser an attractive option for mainstream Web surfers.

"What this release allows us to do is offer the compatibility of having IE if Web sites are optimized for IE, but it also allows the user to have the control and security of Mozilla browsers," said a source close to Netscape's browser effort. "We've taken all the advanced capabilities available in other browsers and made them more intuitive and usable."

The Netscape prototype, available to people who signed up in recent weeks on the Netscape portal, doesn't actually include a copy of

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Hey there, good lookin'
That's pretty sexy. I still use IE because I haven't been sufficiently charmed by the magic of Firefox, but this "two-fer" might just get me.

How does it work, though? Do you just open other windows or what? I like the concept, but I'm not sure how it's executed.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Reply Link Flag
how the IE option works
Good question--thanks for asking it! I've asked that the story be updated to clarify that the prototype lets people view specific pages in IE by selecting a drop-down menu option. Users also can opt to browse with IE by default.
Posted by (23 comments )
Link Flag
How does it work
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
Link Flag
You can pop IE into any app
This isn't really news. IE exists as a COM object you can plop into any Windows app with a few lines of code.
Posted by Jeff Putz (302 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yeah, but Firefox doesn't...
Sure IE is available as a COM object but Firefox doesn't take advantage of this option to make a seemless IE engine browsing experience for users. This is major news because no other company provides a dual-engine browser.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Why hype what hasn't been released?
I don't understand all the hype over a "new" Netscape browser, albeit one based on a pre-release version of Firefox.

Good luck eating Firefox and MSFT's dust!!!
Posted by Lite Rocker (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why Netscape Still Doesn't Get It
Just downloaded and tested the new browser:
- MSN Browser tried this earlier with little success
- too many buttons
- the UI is much too "busy" for a browser, think opera on steroids
- too complex to configure
- placement of menus nonstandard
- tab buttons are too narrow while other buttons are too big (the UI isn't efficient and smacks of an amateur UI designer)

My advice:
Use Firefox instead and simply use the "View with IE" extension as needed
Posted by (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
Just look at Netscape 6. They still don't realize that more doesn't always mean better.

And how the hell can they combine both Gecko and the Trident rendering engines? Gecko renders HTML/CSS right and Trident doesn't render many common CSS properties correctly.
Posted by hion2000 (115 comments )
Link Flag
Sorry, AOL...
...but the AOL web service ia a garbage collection, and Netscape
and IE are both historic losers for multiple reasons. In fact, I
wouldn't ever use anything based on IE - it's a chicken wire sieve
for viruses, etc. plus being a low quality browser at its best.

So save your breath, and just go play with yourself. Anything
AOL, and Netscape and IE, are permanently stripped from my
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A virus seive?
Earl, how many viruses have you gotten through IE? I've been using it for about five years now without changing and I have yet to get any viruses through my various internetting experiences. Am I doing something different from the rest of the general population? Perhaps my computers just have really good immune systems (computer strong like bear)?
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
save your breath
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
Link Flag
What about Maxthon
I'm really surprised that, first when Firefox has been launched and now that Netscape is set to release its new Navigator, there is no mention about Maxthon.
I've used MyIE2 and now Maxthon for a long time and it covers each feature that Firefox and Netscape have.
Everyone seem to discover a "new world" whereas is exists for a while...

Please check <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by emmguyot (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That is a shell of IE
It is just a pretty covering over a rotting core. Why should it be mentioned?
Posted by (40 comments )
Link Flag
Maxthon coverage
Thanks for the point about Maxthon. FYI, we've covered that software in two recent stories:

* Piggyback developers in a bind over IE  October 7, 2004
* IE gaps that need to be plugged  September 30, 2004
Posted by (23 comments )
Link Flag
Maxthon is better than Netscape and Firefox
Any one that has used Maxthon, Netscape and Firefox understands which is the best browser available ... Maxthon
Posted by CoachWT (42 comments )
Link Flag
This is good news!!!
I think there is no problem at all adding new and more browser brands. More choices call for these companies to compete. Competition drives these companies to innovate. And innovation makes life better.

Maybe some brands would get it and some simply won't. But with the great number of Internet users around the world (and still growing), they're sure to get their share of the market.

Not everyone likes monopoly. Not everyone likes to stick to one brand all the time. So the growing choices is simply healthy (technology and business wise).
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about Deepnet?
I have tried Deepnet and I will blow away IE &#38; Netscape. Still waiting for that December 1 release of that Browser. Hate that beta version.

November 22, 2004
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by jtea84 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Deepnet story
Thanks Justin. We now have a story up about the Deepnet Explorer 1.3 release:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by (23 comments )
Link Flag
Problem with Deepnet
The problem with Deepnet is that its still just an interface attached to the IE engine.. its not better than IE it ~IS~ Internet Explorer and is vulnerable to all the security problems IE is currently experiencing.

While Ill admit it is a very well designed interface with lots of neat features, I dont see anything there that Firefox cant do with much smaller one-click plugin extensions that take up far less resources.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Link Flag
Extension comparison is totally wrong
The article says an extension is available for Firefox that provides the same IE viewing functionality. This is totally wrong. Firefox has a "View in IE" extension that launches IE as a separate process with the current URL. The Netscape prototype has a "Display in IE" menu item that uses the IE engine to display the page within the same process and UI. The Netscape version appears to be a much cleaner and streamlined implementation to provide a better user experience.

It was extremely inappropriate for the author to make the incorrect analysis implying they are the same. They're not even close.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
current URL
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
Link Flag
Firefox = IE
Through some research and trouble shooting, I've found out that your newest version of Netscape with Firefox technology uses shared Internet Explorer technology!

Why would Netscape suddenly open themselves up to browser hijacking much to the way IE has been susceptible to? I've been a faithful Netscape user since it was developed but now I won't even install the latest version!

I first found out something was suspicious when after installing ver 8 it crashed and asked if I wanted to send an alert to Microsoft. The latest tip off was when I could not change the homepage due to a browser hijacker. The registry would keep resetting even after I edited it. This is how IE responds. After uninstalling ver 8 and installing 7.2 things were back to normal.

Are the techs at Netscape even aware of these things? I can provide you more details about this if you are interested.
Posted by noodles57 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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