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Javagator down, not out

Though Netscape has ceased development efforts on its Java-based browser, it may pass the baton to independent developers.

Netscape Communications has ceased all development efforts on its browser written in Java, the company confirmed today.

Development of the browser, known as "Javagator," had been back-burnered at Netscape for some time as the company reorganized and de-emphasized its client-side software.

But yesterday, Netscape cofounder and vice president Marc Andreessen declared the browser dead in an interview with Computer Reseller News.

"Netscape no longer Source code for the masses has a team dedicated to the development of a Java-based browser," said Eric Byunn, Netscape's group product manager for Communicator, the company's Web software suite. "We looked at where we were and how much work there was to do with Javagator, and at other types of projects we have going, and decided it wasn't the best allocation of our resources."

One reason Netscape is abandoning the project, Byunn said, is that a group of independent developers are working on their own version of a Java-based Netscape browser. That group, Jazilla.org, is working independently through Netscape's Mozilla.org arm.

Mozilla is shepherding the development of the Communicator source code that Netscape released earlier this year. But Mozilla.org will not oversee Jazilla's development, according to Byunn, though that group will continue to organize through Mozilla.org.

Netscape is in contact with the Jazilla developers, and is "interested in following its progress," Byunn said. But Byunn did not know whether Netscape had discussed turning over the company's work so far on Javagator to the developers.

News of Javagator's demise met with indifference at Java creator Sun Microsystems, whose JavaSoft division had collaborated with Netscape on Javagator.

"It doesn't really affect Sun at all," said Gina Centoni, group manager of the Java platform at Sun. Centoni noted that Sun provides a Java plug-in for both Netscape's and Microsoft's browsers that makes them Java-compatible.