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AOL backtracks on move to kill Netscape

But only for a month

The once-dominant Netscape browser – due to be killed off today – has been given a stay of execution, but only for a month.

Tom Drapeau, the director of AOL's Netscape brand who had previously said development for the browser would end on February 1, has pushed out the support end date until March 1, saying that Netscape and its partners needed more time to wrap up work on tools designed to help users migrate to Mozilla's Firefox or Flock's Flock browsers.

"Mozilla, Flock and AOL are working together to provide tools to ease the migration of existing Netscape browser users to our recommended Flock and Firefox alternatives," said Drapeau in a post to the Netscape blog. "AOL support for Netscape browsers has been extended one month, to March 1."

In addition, an upgrade will be issued to Netscape 9 users through the browser's integrated update feature to "streamline the process of choosing from these two great browser alternatives," Drapeau said.

Flock was a new recommendation from Drapeau, who in December cited only Firefox - the code successor to Navigator - as an alternative, but Flock had been touted by others on the Netscape team earlier this month. Flock, a free browser that stresses social networking features, is built on the Firefox code base.

Drapeau didn't specify which tools were in the works, but presumably they will include some kind of Netscape-to-Firefox migration assistant. Currently, the only way to move a user profile from the former to the latter is to manually copy the Netscape 'profiles.ini' file and its folder to Firefox's directory. Flock, on the other hand, recently unveiled version 1.06, which includes Netscape migration features.

Nor did Drapeau elaborate on the reasons for Netscape's demise. In December, he named "AOL's current business focus" and an inability to revive Navigator's moribund market share as motivators for the move. At the time, however, sources close to Netscape called out AOL upper management's lack of interest and funding as the real reason why Drapeau pulled the plug.


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