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
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.