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Netscape Founder to Launch New Browser

Gordon Kelly by

Netscape Founder to Launch New Browser

This town just ain't big enough for the both of us. That pretty much sums up the decline of Netscape to Internet Explorer in the 90s, but the browser market is a very different place these days and its founder is ready to try again...

Marc Andreesen is behind start-up 'RockMelt' and he claims it will do away with much of the supposed deadwood in current browser make-ups. He criticises the incremental update nature of browsers and claims they have not kept up with the ever more complex evolution of the Internet.

"There are all kinds of things that you would do differently if you are building a browser from scratch," Andreessen told the New York Times.

That said, is seems RockMelt is very reluctant to discuss its answer as yet. "We are at very early stages of development," said RockMelt co-founder Eric Vishria. "Talking about it at this stage is not useful."

Neither it seems is putting a timeframe on RockMelt's development, so at this stage we know little other than what the logo will be. Still, Netscape once had a 90 per cent share of the browser market so call us romantic idealists but we'd rather like to see a glorious comeback...



via NYT

Go to comments


August 18, 2009, 7:11 pm

That's really NOT what we all need; yet another browser.

Another HTML, javascript and CSS engine; another HTTP stack; another XML parser etc etc.


August 18, 2009, 7:47 pm

RockMelt. Seriously?


August 18, 2009, 8:03 pm

Don't worry, DjDarkNight. No-one will pay it any attention anyway.


August 18, 2009, 8:33 pm

@DjDarkNight - I think you're missing the point here. The claim is RockMelt will look to do something different to the usual cores, after all that is what the founders are actively criticising about current browsers.

If it is just another browser it will collapse quickly and no-one will even notice, but to dismiss it before launch seems a little harsh.


August 18, 2009, 9:08 pm

we need an earth-sharttering new web experience... bring it on.

At the same time, I would be happier if everyone could upgrade their browser to the lastest version so less compatibility issues to say...


August 18, 2009, 9:24 pm

Reinventing the browser is what Google claim to have done with Chrome, and in many respects their product is revolutionary - look at the sandboxing of tabs into individual threads, the ninja fast V8 Javascript engine, tearable tabs, the new tab landing page (with mini-views of recent sites), the security model and the incognito private browsing mode. Most of these are already being copied by other browsers, but as far as I know Chrome was the first with all of them, and they genuinely brought something new to the table.

Chrome isn't getting the market share it perhaps deserves, not least because it lacks support for user developed extensions. These can't be far away now, and I can imagine Chrome doing very very well. No reason why another similarly capable, similarly innovative browser can't do equally well.

What RockMelt needs to do if it wants to succeed is build a rock solid, super secure, and - above all - *standards-compliant* browser as a starting point, then add innovative features on top of that. Of course you would do things differently if starting from scratch, but you can't get away from the fact that there is 20 years of development in the current standards (the HTTP transport protocol, HTML, CSS, XML, JS, SSL etc.), and they have global acceptance - you have to support them, even if there are things about them that aren't ideal. If new features are added, the appropriate way is by getting the W3C to extend the standards, not by implementing proprietory features. Provided Netscape learns from the IE v NS standards nightmare of the 90s, and builds a standards-compliant browser, what's the harm?

More coders writing more browsers = more innovation and more choice. All good. That said, are they going to make it open source? And how (if at all) do they plan to monetise it? These are the 2 big questions that need to be answered. Google monetises Chrome by integrating it with Google's value generating products (principally search). Firefox is non-profit, but funded by cash generated from donations and the Firefox landing page (Google search referral fees, essentially). IE and Safari are, respectively, paid for by MS and Apple because they are features of their respective companies' operating systems. Opera, not so sure...


August 18, 2009, 10:09 pm

I'm sure it'll be lovely, but unless they sort that logo out it wont be touching any of my computers! :p



August 18, 2009, 10:40 pm

@John - That's probably the one of the more salient & compelling arguments I've seen in these forums for a while. Keep it up!


August 18, 2009, 10:42 pm

Ps. Why has the TR site suddenly increased the amount of homepage real estate its now pimping out as advert space? Surely your agency customers realise that all your readers are on Firefox and have the ad-blocker plugin..... ;-)


August 18, 2009, 10:50 pm

@Dan: Tut tut, that pays for us to keep writing the content you quite evidently read on a regular basis. As for the increase in ad space, let's just say it's not an editorial decision.


August 19, 2009, 2:25 pm

@Ed - And I thought you guys did it out of love for technology....!

Just kidding, although you should pass on to your Sales Director that while Banners and Skyscraper ads are fine, an MPU on the homepage is spoiling the symmetry of your news and reviews sections - and therefore may be hurting your brand? Will be interesting to see what it does to your user metrics.... do let us know!


August 19, 2009, 7:21 pm

As I say, it wasn't our decision. We raised the very same points when talk of these new ad placements came up.


August 19, 2009, 9:31 pm

@John McLean: Actually, most of the UI features were copied from other browsers. Certainly privacy mode, tearable tabs (if you mean tabs that can be dragged to a new window) and a start page that lists recent and commonly visited sites were around long before Chrome. They did certainly make some improvement on the speed side though.

What I'd like to see from rockmelt is widescreen support. All current browsers are essentially using the same design as mosaic came up with when the average screen was 800x600. Now 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 screens are common we really should be taking advantage of the wasted space as the W3C doesn't seem to keen on encouraging web pages that can adapt based on different screens the best way to do that seems to be if the browser changes it's interface to use the currently wasted space and maximise the vertical space.


August 20, 2009, 2:52 pm


Your point about widescreen support hits the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned.

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