Netscape Revived With Firefox Backing

Despite media reports and industry pundits over the years relegating Netscape to Internet history books, AOL has restarted the browser's development. The company plans to bring back a refreshed Netscape browser based on Firefox, which will incorporate an enhanced user interface and several new features.

A prototype of the new Netscape will debut on November 30 to a limited number of beta testers, AOL told BetaNews.

Netscape was last updated in August to version 7.2, which brought the browser up to date with Mozilla 1.7. But for the most part, Netscape has received little attention from AOL since the release of 7.0 in August 2002. The browser's market share has dropped to single digits as Microsoft's Internet Explorer reigned supreme.

But Firefox's surging popularity has breathed new life into Netscape. Although AOL could not yet comment on what to expect in the prototype, the revamped browser will likely extend Firefox's feature set with Netscape-specific extensions and retain Netscape's traditional green user interface.

AOL announced the upcoming prototype in a message to Netscape users, even taking a swipe at Internet Explorer for its recent security woes.

"While other browsers have seen little improvement over recent years -- except frequent patches for security leaks -- we have consistently added new features to save you time and to make the most out your time online," the Netscape product team wrote. "As a part of our next evolutionary step, we have developed this new Browser Prototype, which could change the way the world masters the web."

Seemingly in competition with itself, AOL has also been beta testing an Internet Explorer based Web browser it calls "AOL Browser." AOL Browser is independent from the company's client software and adds features such as tabbed browsing and privacy options on top of Microsoft's IE engine.

Users interested in testing the Netscape prototype can pre-register by visiting netscape.com and entering the registration code: prototype1104.

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