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The browser that helped kick-start the commercial web is to cease development because of lack of users.

Netscape Navigator, now owned by AOL, will no longer be supported after 1 February 2008, the company has said. In the mid-1990s the browser was used by more than 90% of the web population, but numbers have slipped to just 0.6%.

In particular, the browser has faced competition from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), which is now used by nearly 80% of all web users.

“While internal groups within AOL have invested a great deal of time and energy in attempting to revive Netscape Navigator, these efforts have not been successful in gaining market share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer,” said Tom Drapeau on the company’s blog.

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