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Netscape Browser

Okay, so I tried Netscape 8. Everybody else was doing it.

Netscape 8 is a Firefox-based browser developed by Mercurial Communications for AOL, the owners of the Netscape brand. It bears very little resemblance to Netscape 7.

It's much better than I expected, but to be honest that doesn't say much. I'm just about managing to bear its ugliness and poor usability long enough to write this post. Some observations:

  • The spinning download indicator in the installer turns into an X when you roll over it. Clicking it results in two windows: a "download failed" window with a button to try again, and an "installation success" window with a button to launch the browser. Neither work.
  • The multibar arrows are very close to the main toolbar, and a user could very easily confuse them with the back and forward buttons.
  • The "close tab" button is on every tab. The active tab is automatically made bigger than the others. Neither of these are particularly bad, but together they make the close button a moving target.
  • about:mozilla (The Book of Mozilla, 7:15) is there without the engineers realising that Netscape is the falling beast.
  • The combined Stop/Reload button's tooltip is always "Stop / Reload", which doesn't exactly help a new user work out what the button is at the moment.
  • Opening a new tab causes a copy of the current page to be loaded, and doesn't focus the location bar. Big inconvenience for a heavy tab user.
  • Click areas for buttons are generally unclear.
  • Closing a tab causes the tab to its left to be focused. It's clearly an opinion thing, but it just feels weird to me.
  • Clicking on the maximized titlebar and dragging by as much as a pixel causes the window to "un-maximize".
  • Bookmark folders on the personal toolbar have the hand cursor, even though they aren't links. Menu items inside the folders are links, but don't have the hand cursor.
  • Visiting a page that looks like a default Apache 404 error causes a redirect to Netscape Search. This doesn't happen with my custom 404 error, or with the 404 error page that IIS servers supply.
  • I disabled the "show trusted websites with the Internet Explorer rendering engine" preference in the installer. Microsoft and AOL websites still show with MSHTML.
  • No matter how hard I try, it won't show rdmsoft.com with anything other than Gecko. Weird, but I don't mind. ;)
  • Spot the odd one out: Netscape's "Trusted Security Partners":
    • Verisign has sold over 36 million digital certificates, and owns most of the other security companies anyway.
    • TRUSTe has been an Internet privacy watchdog for 8 years and is well respected.
    • Paretologic are the vendors of XoftSpy, an anti-spyware product that was, until recently, listed on the Rogue Anti-Spyware Products page. False positives, deceptive advertising, and trademark violation were used to persuade users to purchase. The "new and improved" version 4.0 of XoftSpy was developed by a company you may have heard of: Mercurial Communications.

⇐22 May 2005 - A Plan For PHP 5 / 18 May 2005 - No, really NoScript⇒

Feedback

Very thorough, funny and intresting XD / Comment from AD4M on 20 May 2005 at 14:49.

Re: Netscape. I tried to connect, using CD provided and couldn't after trying for 3 hrs and talking with 4, very hard to understand Indian people in New delhi. I gave up and cancelled. Also, I was put on hold for 5 min, awaiting the "cancellation dept". Netscape sucks. / Comment from grumblybear on 25 Nov 2005 at 20:54.

Feedback is closed. Feel free to contact me privately.

tH