December 08, 2000, 1:29 PM — Quick on the heels of a landmark Microsoft antitrust decision that centered largely
on that company's competitive moves against Netscape Communications and its Navigator
Internet browser, America Online chairman Steve Case chose to personally lead the
countercharge of the restored Navigator faithful. Case unveiled version 6.0 of the
browser, now a distant second to Microsoft's Internet Explorer in most market surveys,
during a keynote at Internet World in Los Angeles.
The long-delayed browser release may mark the most important step yet in AOL's attempts
to exploit its 1998 purchase of Netscape Communications. The release is an attempted
leapfrog of sorts. Netscape, which ran neck-and-neck in releases with Microsoft through
release 4, is going straight to version 6 after what were viewed as failed attempts to
roll out a follow-up to the once dominant Internet browser.
In his keynote, Case ruminated on how far the Internet has come in a brief time. Just
five years ago people wondered if the Internet would be a commercial entity in any way,
he remarked, adding, "It's been an amazing change, even for people in the industry."
Case made no direct reference to Microsoft's browser, or its trials. He did pointedly
note that the Netscape software operates across a range of platforms.
"Netscape 6 will give consumers greater convenience as well as greater speed and
efficiency when they go online," said Case. "The Netscape magic is back. "
Case said today that we are on the brink of a second Internet revolution that will
make the first one "look quaint by comparison."
The second revolution will be characterized by the convergence of media,
entertainment and information, as well as a melding of household appliances like
televisions, personal computers and telephones, which will be linked together and share
content and functionality, he said.
"This is the beginning of a world we all dreamed about creating 10 years ago," Case
Important technologies supported in the new Netscape release include Cascading Style
Sheets, XML, and the Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition. Performance is enhanced via
Gecko rendering technology, which is said to speed up the browsing experience for
users. An XML tool, known as XUL (XML-based User Interface Language) allows
customization (some call it componentization). XUL has already been exploited
by AOL/Time Warner's company CNN.com, which will provide a custom version of the
Netscape browser to its customers.
An AOL spokesperson noted that the work of open source group Mozilla.org is key in
producing a browser that supports open standards.
"This release will put Netscape back on the Internet's cutting edge," said Jim Martin,
senior vice president and general manager of Netscape Communications.