The end of Netscape: $750MM sell-off

The end of Netscape?
Now that AOL and Microsoft are best friends, the Netscape browser’s in a tough spot.
Sold for $750MM in potage , AKA settlement charges, the browser–once touted as AOL’s strategic alternative to Explorer–seems like a pretty lame duck product right now. Since AOL is going to continue indefinitely using IE as their core platform, is there a reason for AOL to fund Netscape and the Web properties team?
Back in the day, like 2000-2001, Netscape was going to be the bright hope for the non-AOL subscriber, the web alternative and flanker brand. But those days are long gone–Time, Inc content is moving onto AOL as a sop to the subscription price, AOL is facing hard choices about making their business work at the right margin, and Netscape’s development path has slowed.
When you think that AOL purchased Netscape for $4.3 billion back in the day, the $750MM that AOL is getting from Microsoft in settlement charges is chump change–but if you’re a cashed-strapped company, it’s manna from heaven.
The rise of Mozilla?
As some of you know, I was VP for Programming at Netscape during the peak of the boom. At that time, hopes and plans for the browser and Netscape.com were bright. I was much more focused on Netscape 6.0 than on Mozilla.
But now I am running Mozilla with my news aggregator and strongly preferring it to Netscape and finding it better in some ways than IE.
Will one by-product of this AOL/Microsoft development be a backlash that pushes more people to Mozilla? With the development of Linux, and the move away from browser as the only web-based platforms, having an alternative browser may feel less critical than in 2000, and yet, having strong multiple browser platforms does matter.
I am going to watch and see what happens to Mozilla in the light of these announcements and see if the Phoenix will fly again.