Feeds

Browser innovation is dead – Andreessen

But don't blame me

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Netscape founder Marc Andreessen has taken a potshot at the product that earned him his fortune. The former Illinois student commercialized Tim Berners Lee's web browser first with Mosaic, then took the team with him to found Netscape.

But Andreessen says that "that there hasn't been any innovation on the browser in the last five years" and doesn't see any in the next five years.

"Navigation is an embarrassment. Using bookmarks and back and forth buttons - we had about eighteen different things we had in mind for the browser," he told an industry audience in London yesterday.

However in this interview, a younger Andreessen explained why.

"Basically we took the minimalist approach, as we did with Mosaic. With the interface we tried to make sure there was a minimal amount of stuff other than the Net-based information itself. It would draw out that information, make it possible for people to focus on that information, and get rid of all the crap that usually clutters applications," he told the Smithsonian Institute's Oral History project in 1995.

Indeed both Mosaic and Netscape browsers separated out (or lost) the authoring functionality that was part of the first CERN web browser, and the simplicity and bookmark management played a huge part in the success of these products.

If today's mass market browsers doesn't showcase much innovation, perhaps that's the mass market doesn't want them, preferring familiarity and simplicity. Or perhaps Andreessen is a secret Internet Explorer user. While IE has added nothing since version 4.0 in 1997 - six years ago - the Opera browser has added a number of usability features, evolving with each release. Or perhaps people make good choices. At large, perhaps it's because the web is no longer seen as anything more than an expensive and often cumbersome tool, and not the epiphany we were led to expect. A means to an end, not the end in itself.

Andreessen left Netscape after its merger with AOL in 1999. Having once derided Windows as a poorly debugged device driver loader, Andreessen this Spring saw Netscape's parent AOL sign a seven year deal with Microsoft for the right to continue using Internet Explorer as the core of its client software. ®

Related articles

Browser wars suit ends with death knell for Netscape
Internet is dying - Lessig
Opera - Your mother should know
Jakob Nielsen on how Apple blew it, how Linux will blow it, and the Next Big Thing
MSN deliberately breaks Opera, claims Opera

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.