Netscape 8 Beta Pushed Back to March

America Online won't be issuing the first beta of Netscape 8 as expected this week, pushing the public release back until March. The company says it needs more time to prepare its revived browser, which is based upon Mozilla's Firefox code base and focuses on protecting users from malicious Web sites.

In January, the Netscape team released a minor update to its prototype Web browser that brought the code base up to Firefox 1.0. Netscape, which has been available to a limited group of testers since November, was originally built atop Firefox 0.9.3.

As first reported by BetaNews, AOL tapped Mercurial Communications to help rebuild its Netscape browser brand early last year. The company hopes to build upon the success of Firefox and bring its users a safer browsing experience under the familiar Netscape banner.

AOL had scheduled a February 18 beta to open Netscape's doors to the public, but development is taking longer than planned. The delay is unrelated to any specific bug or problem, sources said.

"We have an excellent beta candidate, but we wanted to spend a little additional time to polish it before making it publicly available," a company spokesperson told BetaNews. "We expect that a beta will be publicly available within the next couple weeks."

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