Re: Roll your own

Mike Masnick (
Thu, 22 Jan 1998 13:26:49 -0500

At 09:09 AM 1/22/98 -0800, CobraBoy wrote:



A friend writes, <italic>"Rumors from sources inside the company say

Netscape will announce Thursday morning that it will be release the

source code to Navigator to the public sometime this year. Dates are up

in the air as they have to resolve how to distribute the source and deal

with parts of Navigator that are licensed."




No longer rumor. It's true:

Thursday January 22, 11:54 am Eastern Time

Netscape to begin giving away browsers

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Jan 22 (Reuters) - Netscape Communications

Corp, moving to shore up its share of the Internet software market, said

Thursday it will begin giving away its Navigator browser with ``no


The company also said it will make the programming code of its products


which are usually jealously guarded by software companies -- available on the

Internet so that independent programmers can modify and improve the


In the past year, Netscape, the pioneer of Internet software, had been losing

market share to rival Microsoft Corp [Nasdaq:MSFT - news] and its free

product Internet Explorer.

Earlier this month, Netscape executives had said they were contemplating

giving away their flagship browser product to draw customers to its more

sophisticated networking software for corporate computer networks.

``Now that we have taken the aggressive step of making our client software

free, our goal is to add millions of new users to our current client installed base

of 68 million,'' Mike Homer, Netscape executive vice president of sales, said in

a statement.

Under its new Unlimited Distribution marketing plan, Netscape will allow

Internet service providers, online services, personal computer makers and

other software companies to distribute its Navigator and Communicator

products for free, the company said.

The company also said beginning Wednesday customers can download its

browsers for free. Until now, they had been expected to pay about $20 to $50

for each copy after a ``trial'' period.

Separately, the company said the ``source code'' -- of the programming

commands that make up software -- of its upcoming Netscape Communicator

5.0 will be available to independent programmers.

The plan is to harness the technical expertise of thousands to accelerate the

browser's development and customization for business customers, Netscape

said. The company plans to post the source code on the global computer

network by the end of the first quarter.

Analysts have said Netscape likely will take a big hit to its revenue by giving

away its browsers. Retail sales of those products accounted for 13 percent of

Netscape's total revenue in the most recent quarter.

But Netscape needs huge browser market share to drive sales of its other


Microsoft, the world's biggest PC software company, has been chipping away

at Netscape's browser market share by offering its Internet Explorer to

consumers, online services and other software companies for free.

In just a little over two years, Microsoft has increased its market share to 39.4

percent from zero, according to market researcher Dataquest. At the same

time, Netscape's share has slipped from more than 75 percent two years ago

to about 57.6 percent in November.

In late morning Nasdaq trading, Netscape shares were up 13/16, or 4.6

percent, at 18-11/16.