Netscape offers up browser, source code, for free

Netscape Communications Corp. (NSCP) confirmed today that it would allow users to download copies of its popular Navigator and Communicator software for free over the Internet.

Netscape Communications Corp. (NSCP) confirmed today that it would allow users to download copies of its popular Navigator and Communicator software for free over the Internet. The company also announced that it would allow developers to license the source code for the next version of Communicator for free over the Internet

As first reported by ZDNN, the company first suggested the freebies a few weeks ago, after reporting dismal quarterly results. At the time, the company said that market forces -- namely Microsoft Corp. -- were behind the idea. Microsoft gives away its Internet Explorer browser, and has significantly bitten into Netscape's share of that market.


"The time is right for us to take the bold action of making our client free -- and going even further by committing to post the source code for free for Communicator 5.0," CEO Jim Barksdale said in a release. Giving away the source code should help attract developers for the software, since they will be able to integrate it into their applications at no cost.

The source code will be available for modification and redistribution later this quarter when the company releases the developer version of the software. Netscape will also set up a special Web site for downloads, and discussions of the code.

Netscape's browser -- which helped the company become one of the best-known names in the technology business -- lost significant marketshare to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, particularly since the last version of IE was released. While Netscape blamed part of that loss on Microsoft's alleged antitrust actions, (See story), the company also suffered from the fact that it continued to charge for software its competitor was giving away for free.

Netscape's client software has shrunk to only about 13 percent of the company's revenue, with the rest coming from enterprise software, services and the company's Web site. Netscape made some announcements today designed to beef up server side sales.

Users of the Communicator client-side software will now get discounts on its enterprise software, including its SuiteSpot server software products and SuiteSpot Hosting Edition. Also, both the SuiteSpot Standard Edition and the SuiteSpot Professional Edition will now be bundled with versions of Communicator.

The company has also set up a "premium services" section of its NetCenter Web site, where subscribers can access business news, an electronic marketplace and hosted Intranet services.

Netscape, based in Mountain View, Calif., can be reached at www.netscape.com.