Netscape 8: Two-headed monster browser

The programmers at Netscape have made a two-headed monster of a browser in the new Netscape 8, which lets you view Web pages as if you were running Mozilla Foundation's Firefox version 1.0.3 or Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6. Unfortunately, the resulting program lacks some of Firefox's most useful features.

Netscape 8, available as a free download, features both the Firefox and IE engines; with a single click, you can switch between the two views. The browser's choice of which engine to use when opening a particular page is determined by a whitelist of safe sites and a blacklist of risky sites. Sites on the whitelist open in Internet Explorer, while sites missing from the whitelist (but not on the blacklist) open in Firefox, which isn't susceptible to IE's potential ActiveX security breaches. If you visit a site on the blacklist, a warning pops up. If you open the page anyway, Netscape automatically blocks scripting and other potentially unsafe functions. While Firefox offers only the functions you need, Netscape 8 piles them on. Examples include the Web mail option and the Datacard and Passcard features for filling in Web forms auto­matically. Meanwhile, Netscape leaves out Firefox's excellent pop-up controls.

Netscape 8 includes tabbed browsing and multiple toolbars (giving you a more spacious display for viewing content) and the browser now includes "live content" so you can view headlines from a small window on your desktop.

Netscape 8 feels like a case of subtraction by addition. The new features may make the browser look more conventional, but it loses Firefox's simplicity in the process. We've put it on the cover CD to see for yourself.

Netscape 8
Price: Free download
Vendor: Netscape
System requirements:233MHz processor; Windows 98/Me/2000/XP; 64MB RAM (256MB recommended); 35MB hard disk space.

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Dennis O'Reilly

PC World
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