I have been looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous Internet Explorer 6 for sometime now. Thought I have found it in the form of Opera 6. Although this Is a great browser, not all websites seemed to work with it. Then I tried Netscape 6.2.1.... Netscape 6.xx is based around the open source Mozilla project. 6.2.1 is based on Mozilla 0.9.4. Basically Netscape works well with most if not all the normal websites I go on. Interface is nice and clean, and you can get interesting content to put into the Sidebar too. EMail app is great, but does not have a calendar feature. Would say that is it al least on a par with Outlook Express, is not better. The web page composer is a great beginners tool into the world of Web page design. All in all I would really recommend this produced. It is stable, not too big, and works!
Well here it is, the update I'm sure you have all been waiting for :op IE6! How does it compare to the rest? Well I have downloaded IE6 and played around with it. And it does what they promised. But, is it up with Netscape? Instead of completely re writing this opinion, I have decided to just add IE6 to the test results, giving a comparison between IE5, IE6 and NS6. So, some of this you may already have read. I downloaded Netscape 6.1 not long after the Beta version was replaced for the released full version. My original reason for download was to test my webpage in Netscape 6.1 for compatibility. Those who have visited my website lately will notice, the test proved negative! But in doing so I started to play around with it a little bit and it isn't half bad, for Netscape at least. IE6 is still, at the time of writing this, in its beta stage. And the final release is not available yet. Been around on Beta for a while now, and reading around what others have had to say on the subject, it isn't half bad. I have always been a real user of IE, and I had high hopes for IE6. First a little history. I first used Netscape back on the version 4. And hated it. And I wasn't alone, those of you who have used it will probably agree, bar a few, that Netscape isn't the best browser around. It was ugly to look at, unstable, slow, well it wasn't good. So it soon became a dusty icon in my start menu, never to feel the click of my mouse again. Netscape has been around for a while, how long I am not entirely sure, as they spent a long time in the back ground, only used by a select few. The release of their NS4 (NS4 meaning Netscape 4) was a stepping stone, in my opinion, in the road to a competition browser with Microsoft, who have always dominated the browser market. However it lacked, seriously lacked, the stuff to be any good. A lot of pages wouldn't support it, because it wanted different scripting, and
most web developers wouldn't bother due to its small amount of users. It was unstable, and slow. The main reason for all this, has been, they tried to be too clever. They wanted a browser that would be better than IE4 (that's Internet Explorer 4) and seemed to try and take the method of cramming as many features as possible into their browser in the hope of it being better than IE. And on paper, or computer monitor as the case may be. It was. Offering loads of fancy features not found on IE. However, when put into practice, these features were the killing things of Netscape. They were to rushed and not tested right. The result was a browser that although had the potential, couldn't perform like IE. And although a select few users use it, and a lot of people have it, it never became a serious contender really, with Microsoft. Although Microsoft have kept a very close eye on it. The NS6 release was meant to be a revolution in Internet browsers. Offering things not available in IE5.5, as is current, and meant to be the next best thing. Was it? We'll see in this opinion. So what's it got to offer? Well, I figured, the best way to do this would be to put it up, head to head, against Microsoft Internet Explorer 5. As this is the most common browser used at the moment. I have also compared it against IE6, which is the latest Microsoft explorer. So, keyboards at dawn gentleman, this town ain't big enough for the both of you: (Quick reference guide, NS6=Netscape 6.1, IE5 = Internet Explorer 5, IE6 = Internet Explorer 6 (beta) #Load time# Test is to see which browser loads up from scratch to my default homepage, Yahoo.com, the fastest. The time starts when I click the icon, and end when the 'done' status is displayed. (For reference, I am using a 500mhz laptop with 128Mb Ram. And I am connected at 45333bps) NS6 = 15 seconds IE5 = 9 seconds IE6 = 6 seconds (and I was only connected at 38
666bps that time) The next test, is the time it takes to get from Yahoo.com to the DooYoo homepage and reach the 'done' stage. NS6 = 25 seconds IE5 = 15 seconds IE6 = 5 seconds (It does cache pages much better and so this really helped its load time. Worth remembering, that all dooyoo pages had been opened before tests on all browsers was carried out, so they all had the chance to store content in the cache before loading) #Search engine# Next test was the search function within the browser. Although personally I never use it, I have been informed that a lot of people do, so I tested it. The search I performed was for 'Coca-Cola' IE5 = Well the results were, shall we say, interesting. IE5 search facility, I never did get to work correctly. Performing a simple search was just not happening. On clicking search, it opened a side bar, with links, but never revealed a search box, however a popup window appeared which seemed to be a random advertisement or page. It seemed to be zipwarez, which I couldn't get rid of. I had to restart my computer in order to stop this page from coming up. This could have been my browser at fault or something to do with Yahoo! As that was the page displayed at the time. But I can assure you I have never visited Zipwarez, never heard of them either. Zipwarez was also set as my homepage. So results for search facility on IE5 are, useless, has anybody else had this problem? NS6 = well when their search page finally opened, you are faced with a search engine within the Netscape home page, but you do actually have the option of searching something. The search Coca-Cola revealed 658 results, most containing the word Coca-Cola, however it took 80 seconds to do this. That's taken from Netscape's own page load timer. But you do get there, eventually. IE6 = Its slow. Not as fast as NS6 to open and get going, however, it is much better than IE5. At least I a
ctually got a search facility this time, with no changes to my homepage or popup windows. It runs in the sidebar, so doesn't change your main window page. Meaning you don't lose the content you are viewing. All the results were relevant to Coca-Cola and overall, it is the best search facility so far. It is slow to load, but once loaded it performs well. Far easier and more useful than IE5 and NS6 I think. #Useful window size# This test was to compare the useful window size you have, to actually view a webpage, taking into account, toolbars, sidebars etc. For this test, both browsers had one toolbar open, plus the menu bar, and sidebars closed. I got the size by doing a print screen and measuring the window in photo editor (I have far too much time on my hands). The screen resolution I used was 1024x768 NS6 = 996,614 pixels (a lot of space wasted when it doesn't need to be) IE5 = 1003,613 pixels IE6 = 1005,611 pixels (when toolbars are locked, they shrink, giving you more space) #Features# A hard one to test. If I were to list every feature within both browsers, this opinion would be miles long. So I decided I would do it by selecting a few basic features you are likely to use, and determine if each browser has it: ~Navigation (includes forward, back, stop, home etc)~ NS6 = Yes IE5 = Yes IE6 = Yes ~Email~ NS6 = Yes, has a built in mail client. Never managed to send an email via it though, even after the setting up it makes you do. IE5 = Yes but not built into the browser as such, but bundles Outlook Express, which is far more useful than Netscape's email. In my opinion. IE6 = Bundles Outlook Express 6. Not much different to 5, apart from opening screen. But does contain more hidden functions that make it a little bit better then 5. Regular users of 5 will not notice a huge difference though. ~Messaging service~ NS6 = Yes, bundles AI
M, AOL's instant messenger. Good or bad? You decide, personally, I use it, but could easily do without it. IE5 = No, nothing I know of IE6 = Yes, incorporates MSN and Yahoo! Messenger. Or the one I have does. Much more useful than AIM as MSN and YM are probably the most popular messenger services. ~History~ Means if it keeps a history of recent page visits and stores them, then displays them as options when entering a URL NS6 = Yes IE5 = Yes, easy to customise to set things like how long pages are stored for etc. IE6 = Yes, Much the same as IE5, although more options on the way it is done. ~Cookies~ If it automatically stores cookies, or if you have to option of turning them off. NS6 = Yes, nice as you can set it to ask you if you want to store the cookie, meaning it only stores cookies you want. And remembers your decision, so you don't have to tell it each time you visit a page. Great for stopping those ads etc IE5 = Yes, they can be turned off. I think it is possible to customise this, to only allow certain cookies, but I am not sure how this is done, and isn't as easy as Netscape to do. IE6 = Yes, much the same as NS6. In the sense you can turn them off, and have good control on which cookies you allow and which you don't. Very good and instead of a pop up message like in NS6, it informs you by a discreet icon in the taskbar, which you can click to view what it has done, and change options etc if you wish. Also an improvement on IE5 is you can delete the cookies in your temporary internet files folder from the properties menu, like you could delete the files and history folder. Before it used to delete files, but not cookies, now you can chose to delete cookies too. ~Bookmarks~ NS6 = Yes, Includes the 'sidebar' which stores them and allows you to organise them. Nice, but a bit useless I found. But I can see some advantages. IE5 = Yes, sim
ormation. IE5= Its simple and effective. That's probably the best way to describe its features. Doesn't offer as many features as NS6, but most the features it offers are useful. This makes it much more user friendly and doesn't waste space and time on useless gimmicks, which NS6 does, I feel. IE6 = A huge improvement over IE5. Still not as packed as NS6, but again, as with IE5, the features are more useful than NS6 and not so many gimmicks. But they have put more gimmicks on than maybe they should have. For instance IE6 also has net2phone! But overall, it has everything NS6 has, and yet still loads and runs faster, because it is not over packed. Toolbar lock is a nice feature to avoid that annoying mouse drag you sometimes do by mistake and close all your toolbars out. #Appearance# NS6 = I like the new look NS6 has now. It has a nice interface, with smooth colours, and nice buttons. Space is wasted with things like over sized toolbars, and the sidebar, although can be closed, remains part shown on the left-hand side. It appears smooth and nice, giving it a 'different' look to your standard programs. Customisation is limited on the appearance, though, with only fonts and font colour really customisable. Themes are available, but require downloads and setting up Shortcut buttons located in the bottom task bar are useful and make opening things like WinAMP easy. IE5= Standard! It looks like every other Microsoft program, with that grey look. Buttons are the typical Microsoft master pieces, where it takes you half hour to work out what the picture on the button is, before you can even start to work out what it does! But it uses the standard icons, so experienced Microsoft users will know what they do easily. Customisation of IE is easier, as the Toolbars can be customised to show any picture you want as a background, using things like Hotbar (www.hotbar.com) which will change the toolbars, or a b
etter way is to use the plugin available from Microsoft which allows you to design your own toolbar background, and also changes the toolbar in Outlook Express too, which hotbar wont. A nice touch I think. IE6 = The same! Typical Microsoft interface. Nothing new apart from the slightly different Icon. Although customisation is better. And previous customisation settings copy over into IE6 from IE5 well. #preferences# NS6 = The preference options are somewhat limited, but offer the choice of changing things while on the go, for instance the cookie options, or buttons displayed. Most things you will want to change, can be changed. IE5= Not as many options as NS6, but enough to keep you going. Although may be for the more advanced user in some cases as it does get a little complicated at times. IE6 = Much more user friendly. And very complete, offering most things you would like to change. Easy and not as complicated, although still some complicated parts. Overall verdict? Well I have to admit, Netscape have come a long way with their browser. And I will be the first to admit, it does give IE5 a run for its money. By far it is superior to IE5 in terms of general browsing. However, I feel they still have a way to go. If they lost some of the gimmicks they have on it, and speeded it up, it would be a strong contender. Microsoft still lead the browser market as far as I am concerned, and are the old folks of browsers. Netscape seem to be the 22 year old Cambridge student, trying to take the experienced 40 year olds manager position. (Did that comparison make any sense?) They have potential, but still need to release it to its fullest. I was right when I said IE6 would ruin NS6 moment of glory. It has, although in NS6 defence, it only just scrapes ahead of NS. If Netscape sort out the gimmicks and improve speeds. Then they will have a very competitive browser, which might do Microsoft some good. It's a
bout time someone challenged Microsoft and made them work a little! NS6 is good, and will make a good alternative to IE6. I will continue to use both I think. And don't think I will be sending NS6 to the dusty icon archive just yet. But my default browser will remain IE6. As in terms of overall performance, NS6 lags. Well done Netscape boys and girls. You almost had old Gatesy worried there! Next time you will have him.