Netscape Communications on Tuesday released the source code to Communicator 5.0, the company's next generation Web browser suite. Tuesday's source code drop was the first of many the company will make this year; Communicator 5 is expected to ship in the Fall.

"Releasing the Communicator source code rallies the developer community while leveraging the incredible talent of the net," said Marc Andreessen, executive vice president of products at Netscape. "Everyone wins with the evolution of the Netscape source. Developers and programmers can participate in generating state-of-the-art products, and Netscape maintains its role as a standards-based technology leader in innovation and product development by delivering quality products that customers demand."

Currently, there are no executable versions of Communicator 5 available. Netscape says that the current source code release will compile into a pre-alpha build of Communicator that is unstable and for developers only. By releasing the source code publicly, Netscape is hoping to receive the aid of thousands of developers from all over the globe; the company plans on using the best modifications to the program in the "official" version released by Netscape.

If you're a developer with access to Visual C++ 4.2 or newer, and you're interested in the Communicator source code, and possibly contributing to this excellent project, you can visit www.mozilla.org, the new site that Netscape has set up for this very purpose. Over the next few weeks, developers will likely be releasing new executable versions of Communicator for users to test. If you are working with the Communicator source code and compile a working version of the product, please contact me: I'm interested to see what sorts of things developers do with it