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Corporations Dropping Netscape Support?

By Vygramul in Internet
Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 05:22:30 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

A large telecom (whose name I shall not mention for obvious reasons) of > $50 Billion market cap is considering dropping Netscape as a supported browser for its network management web portal.

Among the concerns are known Netscape bugs (layers with form elements), a proliferation of Netscape versions, and features of DHTMLS and CSS that IE supports that Netscape doesn't.

With the latest controversy surrounding Netscape 6, some management is ready to believe that N6 is a failure based on the Flanagan article and that therefore Netscape is all but dead. They can then assert that we no longer need to develop in such a way as to make allowances for Netscape, developing solely for IE. There are lots of compelling reasons in addition: testing costs would be cut in half, at least; development costs would decrease; development time would be shortened.

Netscape needs to step up and step up soon to prevent this and other disasters. Even former Netscape loyalists are beginning to say that IE is a better browser, and the backers are increasingly at a loss for ammunition.

Is this a unique experience? Are there others out there witnessing their companies planning to kill Netscape support? What can we do about it? Other than principle, is there really any advantage to Netscape? Is there a good argument for dropping IE?

What Microsoft started by including IE with Windows Netscape might finish all by themselves, and that would be regrettable.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Is Netscape Dead?
o Yes 16%
o No 27%
o It's not dead yet, but the dead-cart is here... 44%
o IE is dead 3%
o Opera 7%

Votes: 152
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Flanagan article
o Also by Vygramul

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Corporations Dropping Netscape Support? | 20 comments (17 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
I gave it a +1 (1.90 / 10) (#2)
by greyrat on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:05:40 PM EST

But I'd prefer it to be in the Technology section.

Sections were a gooooooood thing...right Rusty? #;^)
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

Netscape Is Dead... (3.00 / 9) (#5)
by Matrix on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:51:52 PM EST

...And is likely to remain so for a long time. Fortunately for those of us in the Unix world, who don't have the "choice" of IE, Mozilla does indeed present a reliable and reasonable alternative. Many of the problems with NS6 occur because they won't impliment patches from Mozilla. M18 is quite a good browser, almost the equal of prior IE and NS versions, from what I've used of them.

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett

IE on unix (3.33 / 3) (#13)
by mstevens on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 06:16:08 AM EST

IE is available for at least some unix platforms - I've used it on Solaris and prefer it to netscape there. Michael.

[ Parent ]
Ah (2.50 / 2) (#15)
by Matrix on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:24:20 PM EST

Yeah, but I think its widely agreed that the Unix port of Netscape 4.x is total crud. I'm on Linux, so I don't have the choice. I've got an account on a SunOS machine at school, though, and I'd like to see how IE_Unix compares to Mozilla... Is it available for SunOS (which, IIRC, is different from Solaris) and likely to be installed there?

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Future Imperfect (3.71 / 7) (#6)
by dreamfish on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:00:13 PM EST

A lot of people supported and promoted Netscape purely because it wasn't IE, not because it really was the better browser (even though I believe it did marginally support more of the accepted web standards than IE). This may have done more harm than good.

I always wondered what the future of Netscape would be after AOL took them over. Does anyone think Mozilla will be the 'white knight' that will ride in the save the day at the last moment or is it simply 'too little, too late'?

Not just dropping Netscape (3.10 / 10) (#7)
by freakazoid on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:19:53 PM EST

If a company only supports IE, they are failing to support platforms other than Windows (and possibly Mac) as well, which IMHO is a big mistake. That's fine. If I can't view your site on Linux, I won't do business with you.

Big deal (2.75 / 4) (#11)
by darthaya on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 08:01:33 AM EST

Most of the Linux users have access to more than just linux, they usually have a windows box/partition to run some essential applications such as office or to play games. Big business ain't losing much if they decide to only support windows platform(thus IE), because they can slash the development cost while still keeping up with most of the customers.

[ Parent ]
Netscape is not yet dead... (2.60 / 5) (#8)
by evvk on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 05:08:57 PM EST

.. and looking at the alternatives for *nix, I'll be using Navigator 3.x for years to go. It is not good, but there just isn't lighter, faster and more stable graphical browsers for *nix. Navigator 4.x is bloated, very unstable and slow. Mozilla is extremely bloated and sluggish (not even mentioning the unstability...). I don't want to install KDE or gnome just to use a browser and I guess their browsers wouldn't be that lighter anyway (the DE's being inherently bloated). Even Opera for Linux is much bigger than Navigator 3.x (sic!), and not always faster. Opera or IE on windows beats all the other browsers any day. The *nix browser situation really sucks, and I don't even want support for the latest new media crap. I want a HTML2.0+tables (for displaying tabular data, not layout kludges) capable light and fast graphical browser with lynx-like interface.

Support Standards not Browsers! (4.75 / 8) (#9)
by Scriven on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:13:55 AM EST

From the Any Browser Campaign web site:

"Anyone who slaps a 'this page is best viewed with Browser X' label on a Web page appears to be yearning for the bad old days, before the Web, when you had very little chance of reading a document written on another computer, another word processor, or another network."

-Tim Berners-Lee in Technology Review, July 1996

I don't understand why companies in general find this so hard to understand.

There are standards for mark-up on the web. Netscape/AOL and Microsoft both have a hand in creating those standards, since both have people on the board at the World Wide Web Consortium. I personally find it reprehensible that these companies (browser programming companies, that is) supposedly support the standards, and then can't even implement them properly in their NEWEST browsers!

So companies and web developers have to take the WWW back from the hands of the browser companies! Support the AnyBrowser Campaign, test your code with the W3C HTML Validation Service and the W3C CSS Validation Service and help make the WWW browser independent. Do NOT use the special tags, invented by the browser companies but not supported by the W3 (blink comes to mind as a nice example).

The more of us who adhere to the standards, the more the browser companies will have to FIX THEIR BROKEN BROWSERS. You can argue "But, my page looks broken in #include <browser_name>, so I HAVE to ignore the standards", but this is a bullshit excuse, IMNSHO. If you bought a car, but the cup holders were square so that only AUTOCOMPANY brand travel mugs would work, you'd complain, AUTOCOMPANY would catch shit for this bonehead move, and it would be fixed with much embarassment to AUTOCOMPANY. So WHY are you letting the browser companies determine the shape of the World Wide Web?

Code your sites for the standards, and have your clients all complain to the browser companies (on letterhead, signed by someone who actually matters), and we'll see how fast this changes.

This is my .sig. It isn't very big. (an oldie, but a goodie)
Re: Support Standards not Browsers! (4.50 / 2) (#12)
by Ronin SpoilSpot on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 10:26:48 PM EST

Much as I would like to agree with you, I don't think commercial compagnies care the least bit about standards. They care about customers second and income first. Standards is not on the list. If they think they can earn more money ignoring standards they won't even think twice.
Also, the problem here seems to be that Netscape is NOT standards compliant. It sounds like what they are stopping is support for Netscape's bugs. Ofcourse, one can make webpages without javascript or other implementation specific details, but apparently web designers still think that complexity proves competence. If Netscape had been 100% standard compliant, and that's counting the newest standards, then i don't think there would be any fuss. This compagny just found that only IE has enough users that you should actually accept it's bugs.

"This space intentionally left blank"
[ Parent ]
The problem is the lack of usable standards (4.00 / 4) (#16)
by loner on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:53:49 PM EST

The way I see it as an intranet developer, the problem is not as much a lack of support of layout standards in HTML or CSS. The problem is that there are no usable standards for adding interaction to web pages. And this is the problem cited in the story, if I understand it correctly, because of a bug in Netscape's implementation of kludges applied to the HTML (layout) standard to provide some degree of interaction.

Here's the thing: the commerical part of the web is not as concerned about presenting static documents (what HTML was first designed for, and the only thing CSS is good for), but to use the web and browsers as a widely available/easy to maintain client-server system. They want interactivity.

None of the current standards address this issue. There are two recourses to companies: use a proprietary standard/plugin such as shockwave or acrobat forms, or use the awful, stinking, miserable kludges that are HTML forms, DHTML, and Javascript.

The problem is that it takes a huge effort to properly implement these godawful kludges, and even if all the browsers in the world supported these standards correctly, us programmers are still left with substandard APIs for implementing usable interactivity into web pages.

We desperately need a usable and coherent public standard for adding interactivity to web pages.

The solution is to create and implement more usable standards, preferrably following the XML and DOM models just like in the case of SVG, and create two sets of programs: plugins to implement XML-based standards geared towards specific functionality, and browsers that provide accessible harnesses where these plugins can run and interact with each other. We need xhtml + svg + xforms + css + ecmascript, separate cooperating plugins for each, and browsers to support these plugins.

And that is yet another problem with Netscape. Having been involved with writing a plugin for Netscape and IE, I can assure you: it's easy to write one for IE, hopeless for Netscape, there are just too many bugs.

[ Parent ]

Some thoughts (2.83 / 6) (#10)
by paranoidfish on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 08:00:40 AM EST

It appears to me that this article could mean one of two things:

  • A Intranet style tool using a browser to save writing UI/Network code - in which case, get over it. If a customer needs netscape support, then they'll go elsewhere. Judging by the descision you mention, this is a loss the company is prepared to make
  • A publicly accessable website - you are probably a customer of this site yourself. Make a compaint (as a customer who happens to work for the company). Make it clear that you will take your business elsewhere. One vocal customer who happens to work there is worth more than 200 faceless email addresses.

Of course, it's amazing how effective the following conversation can be at making the problem seem real:
- What about those who use textonly/non-ie/linux browsers?
- Pah. They don't count. Who uses them anyway?
- Me for one. And, erm, him, him and her.
- oh

You are testing Mozilla, right?

re: Some thoughts (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by Vygramul on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:36:52 PM EST

This is a publicly accessible website (you need to get some sort of business internet service from the company) and I am not a user of the system. We don't support text-only browsers nor any platform other than windows (which is funny since lots of network admins use the system.)
If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.
[ Parent ]
Netscape death would yield an open-source browser (3.33 / 3) (#17)
by n8 on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 06:58:45 PM EST

Kinda like the Apache server, but a browser instead. Linux types need to browse too...

No open source browser for Linux? (4.50 / 2) (#18)
by dorward on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 03:37:00 AM EST

If there isn't an open source browser for Linux what is Mozilla? And Konqurer (I know I can't spell)? And lynx? And w3m? And links? And all the other browsers on freshmeat

[ Parent ]
"Netscape's DHTML stinks, so we drop it?" (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by WWWWolf on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 02:45:11 PM EST

Netscape's layers and DHTML stuff doesn't work like expected?

Big deal.

Personally, I've mostly seen bad uses of "DHTML". I mean, what does a microsoft.com-style drop-down menu add to the site? What does a floating layer - menu box add to the site?

Not much. The same thing can be done with no tricks that's actually just as elegant and works with older browsers, too.

As a web designer, I haven't used "DHTML tricks" (as the marketing hype goes) for two reasons: 1) Netscape and MSIE DOMs are not compatible, which would mean duplicate work, and 2) "loads slow, probably crashes your browser or gives a bunch of error messages, and is about as entertaining to watch as a guy making a dog out of balloons" (To paraphrase Vincent Flanders).

Call me a mindless purist, but I think Netscape is actually doing a favor to the web users with its 4.x versions when page designers think "Ah, I'd make that floating menu, but making it to cooperate with existing browsers is PAIN!" =)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

More alternatives (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by Nickus on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 04:45:05 PM EST

The problem is when we get fewer alternatives we also get less innovation. And that is ofcourse a deadend But that is not the issue now. A number of great browsers have come out lately, i.e. Konqueror and Opera.
But companies shouldn't support browsers, they should support standards and thereby force browser-vendors to create standard compliant browsers. That is the most important thing.

Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
Corporations Dropping Netscape Support? | 20 comments (17 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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