Netscape Crap

By Xah Lee. Date:

This opinion article discusses the incompetence of Netscape browser in late 1990s, when compared to its competitor the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser.

Subject: Re: Mozilla crap... or not / Re: Someone saw a change...
Cc: Mac OS X Talk <>
To: Cesar Alsina <>
From: Xah Lee <>
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2002 03:53:38 -0800

Dear Cesar Alsina and all,

while i was cleaning up my mailbox of this list, i found quite a few messages addressed to me but went unnoticed by me. (ah, this reminds myself that i should not insist on never sending out “courtesy copy” when replying in a public list, because when in a busy list generated by too many moppets who read little but speak incessantly, my insistence to encourage people to read-more and speak-less by not including “courtesy copy” will not only went unnoticed, but left the post itself unnoticed among the myriad of posts.)

On January 5, 2002, at 01:53 AM, Xah Lee wrote:

now Open Source Mozilla nameless crap

On January 6, 2002, at 12:10 PM, Cesar Alsina wrote:

Xah, care to elaborate on this?

Sorry to pick only this line from your interesting note, but this one made me wonder… would you expand you comments on this?

I was just indicating the general degradation and the unfortunate fate of the Netscape browser now known to the geek community as Mozilla.

Like almost everyone, i started with Netscape (and a bit of Mosaic). After Microsoft started to make a browser and offered it free, i also like everyone, downloaded it and used it side by side. My vague memory tells me that each year Microsoft Internet Explorer gets better and Netscape becomes worse. In particular, i recall in late 1998, which i think is Netscape 4.x, that in terms of speed, feature, memory usage, crashiness, and W3C standard conformity, Netscape is worse in all aspects compared to IE (on the very crash-prone Mac OS 7 or 8 era. This is around when first iMac was introduced.). At that time, i think the market share of Netscape is also dwindling to below 50% from erstwhile 100%. I don't recall was it sooner or later, but then the Netscape got bought by AOL, and soon after that it became a Open Sourced project, codenamed Mozilla, in the apex of Open Source movement, being the first widely publicized major Open Source project, all over in tech news. By that time, Netscape is already so bad that the Open Source movement was hoped to save its ass. This publicity boosted the Open Source movement, but unfortunately didn't boost the quality of the browser. Then, Netscape become dormant for perhaps 2 years without releasing any new version, then at last popped up version 6 in around i think 2000. By 1999 i'm already so sickened by the state of Netscape-the-browser that i stuck with whatever version i have on my computer and didn't try out any new versions. I recall that Netscape 6 is so bad that no presses and reviews have good things to say about it. Even the {Open Source, unix} moron's mecca — the — admitted in their daily babbling that Netscape the browser is quite fcked up. And, the satire site also made fun of it (see Software Skin Cancer). I also recall a article by the well-known geek Jamie Zawinski, which i got from somewhere. Jamie is one of the originator of Xemacs, and first few Netscape-the-company employee as well. He wrote a article on his resignation from AOL/Mozilla in 1999-03-31, which gives a insider's opinion on how Netsceape is fcked up. (see: (archived copy: netscape_resignation_and_postmortem_Jamie_Zawinski.html.gz) )

According to i think some people on this list, the latest Netscape is ok. But i'm already disgruntled with it. On my work Widows NT, i have Netscape Communicator 4.7 installed and i don't want to bother “upgrade”. (i use IE and Opera in general.) On my Mac OS X box, I'm currently using IE & OmniWeb, and i would download and use iCab and Opera before i would try Netscape. I'm all for freedom and the supposed benefits of Open Source offered by the usually moronic but oftentimes encourageable geeks who share many of my views and personal propensities, but i feel sorry how things turned out for Netscape.

The dot com boom era is quickly forgotten by us. It is somewhat pleasant to write out memories. I bet that soon the presses and general public will not know what was the dot com era like. Folks, do you guys also remember when how Java first came to the scene? Gosh, it is supposed to be the last language on earth, offered by the then little-known unix company called Sun Microsystems. Then, at the time there's Java and also the purposefully confusingly named JavaScript. The OOP craze is at its climax, and Java is to “rescue” the world from Microsoft. (Java today is “just another fcking language” amidst so many other common languages like C++ and now C# and now born-again-Apple's Objective C.) The browsers were at the plug-ins era, and client-side java being the whiz-bang of the time. Network-computing utopia was also jazzed about, as well as Virtual Reality web stuff like VRML.

I'm not a old man, so many of you will remember older things in industry that are oblivious to current crop of people in the computing industry. I think history can be fun, especially if you lived it out.


PS in general i'm disgruntled by the so common hatred towards Microsoft that i don't think is justified at all. I think this is another one of those fad and fashion created by in general ignorant people. I think i should write about it here sometimes. (be profuse with your objections before i actually write and post such offending matter here down the road. )