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Netscape Navigator 6.0
Member Name: MichaelR
Netscape Navigator 6.0
Date: 29/04/01, updated on 29/04/01 (77 review reads)
Advantages: Looks pretty. Good idea.
Disadvantages: Big, slow, prone to crashing, refuses to start sometimes
I have been a fan of Netscape browsers for some time, but with the 6th coming of the Netscape browser, they really do have seem to have lost the plot.
Perhaps it's partly down to selling out to AOL, renowned makers of terrible, shocking, appallingly bad software (no, I don't like AOL!) but who knows...
They promised us a small, fast, and reliable browser that would transform our Internet experience (well don't they all?) but what they actually gave us was, err, well a big chunky piece of bloatware that's as slow as an elderly snail and crashes about every ten minutes.
For a long time (until the advent of Internet Explorer 5), Netscape browsers were superior in almost every respect. They fetched URL's with lightening speed and they never ever crashed. I just really can't believe that Netscape got it so wrong this time.
The full download of Netscape 6 is around the 25 MB mark, and includes Sun Microsystems Java 2 (This is a new, new Java, not the old new Java. I never did understand Sun's numbering system, so don't ask me which version of Java this ACTUALLY is!). This is roughly the same size as a download of IE5. However IE comes bundled with Windows ME and you can get it on virtually any magazine cover disc or ISP set-up disk nowadays...
After having downloaded all the files, the set-up is the first cause for concern. After installing the browser itself and the Net-2-Phone software, as well as AOL Instant Messenger, the installation program will install Sun Java 2. THIS TAKES AN ABSOLUTE AGE!! It will then move onto trying to install RealPlayer 8, and errr, it'll crash! and you'll try it again, and it'll crash, and crash, and crash.
So then, I had to do without RealPlayer 8...
Having finally successfully installed the program, I attempted to start it, and nothing happened. (Quite common for Netscape 6).
A restart later, and hurrah! it
works! Or does it?
Well yes it did, but I had time to make a cup of tea whilst the browser loaded. It really does take forever - much slower than the 4.x flavours of Netscape.
Upon loading for the first time, Netscape requests that you register your details with the company - allowing you access to a wide range of services offered by Netscape Netcenter. This includes things like the Netscape webmail service - which has always been superb.
You're then free to browse away.
The browser looks great and is fully customisable with skins. The default is rather nice though... no more grey buttons! I would like the little IE 'clicks' when you activate hyperlinks, but I'm just being fussy there.
The browser also features a nice multi-part (divided by tabs) sidebar that allows access to a whole host of features, such as news from CNN, software downloads, weather, polls, anything you could really think of.
There is also a 'bottom bar' that has a few more channels on it.
Unfortunately, these bars take even longer to load after the program itself has got up and running...
The first thing you'll notice when you start browsing is that the address in the lookup bar does not highlight when you click in it.
This is a major flaw in my opinion, as you either have to hold down the backspace key forever, or drag the cursor across the URL in the lookup bar and then hit backspace before you can enter a new address.
The browser will then have a bit of a think and start retrieving the URL. This will take on average 4 times as long as in IE 5.5 - that is if it doesn't crash!
It does have a nice progress bar that shows you the time remaining until a page will be completely loaded (and it is a true indicator, unlike the IE one) but it is so very, very slow!
To be fair, it does follow W3C conventions more closely than IE, so that may have something to do wit
h it, but why it takes so long to render even the most basic webpage is beyond me...
It also has a better autocomplete option than IE (for passwords etc) and you can even 'hide' the autocomplete files if you have multiple users on your machine, so that no one else can get their paws on your precious accounts.
A word of warning though - don't close the window!
If you close Netscape 6, chances are you'll have to restart the computer before you can get it to start up again...
Netscape 6 is so good in principle - a nice looking, functional browser that combines all your communication needs and is totally customisable - allowing you quick access to whatever it is that you use most.
Unfortunately, it doesn't achieve any of the goals it set itself due to its snail-paced loading and lookup times and its refusal to start up sometimes along with its liking of crashes.
It's not just my machine either - I've tried it on two home machines, a laptop, and a Uni machine and it's the same on all of them...
It's sad really. Netscape has always been my favourite browser, and I really thought that they would come up with something to surpass IE 5.5 (which was a turning point for me - it was the first time that I was tempted away from Netscape products) but they have really messed up in a big way.
I don't think I'll be going back for version 7...