Netscape is the browser that everyone has probably used at one point or another. Don’t try and block it from your memory, it’s okay, there is no arguing that Netscape Navigator was the hot browser of the 90’s.
Last October I took a look at what Netscape 8 had to offer, which included a lot of improvements over prior versions. The most notable feature was that it was based on the Firefox rendering engine. This was also the first time that they moved away from being an entire Internet Suite (browser, email, etc…) and focused solely on being a browser that people would respect.
Netscape 9.0 Beta 1 was just released last night, and they have decided to bring something back that hasn’t been around since version 6! When Netscape 7 launched they decided to remove “Navigator” from the name, but it returns in full glory in Netscape Navigator 9.
So I’ll give you a visual walk-through of a few new features in Netscape 9, some of which should be included in Firefox. Besides having all of the great Firefox 2 features (spell check, session restore, etc…) it also has all of this included:
It looks for common mistakes that you would make when typing in a URL. It can autocorrect up to 30 different mistakes, for example, typing “cybernetnewscom” will automatically get changed to “cybernetnews.com”.
This is actually such a simple idea, yet incredibly useful because of how they implemented it. Link Pad is a simple sidebar item that will store hyperlinks you drag on to it (or on the icon in the bottom-left corner). It is essentially a bookmark system, yet it is kept separate from your bookmarks to keep things a little more organized. I look at it as a place for “disposable” URL’s that you’ll only visit one time. After you click on a URL, it will automatically be removed from the Link Pad…that’s the best part.
All Firefox 2 extensions should now work perfectly in Netscape. Thank goodness! I tried both IE Tab and Tab Mix Plus, two very popular Firefox extensions, and each worked flawlessly. Kudos to the Netscape team for making sure people could still use their Firefox extensions.
–Sidebar Mini Browser–
You can right-click on any hyperlink and choose to open it in the sidebar. Then the sidebar is its own little browser with an address bar as well as back/forward buttons. Split-screen navigating isn’t such a chore now!
This is the feature I constantly say that Firefox should include! Restarting the browser is as simple as hitting the File Menu and clicking Restart Navigator. All of your tabs and windows are then instantly restored.
Okay, this feature is priceless. No, it is not the same thing as the History menu in Firefox, although Netscape does include that as well. Basically when you make a link open in a new tab, all of the backward browsing history is copied to that new tab. For example, let’s say you’re searching on Google and you Ctrl+click on one of the links so that it opens in a new tab — while in that new tab, you’ll still be able to go back to the Google search results. If you try the same thing in Firefox, the back button will be disabled because the new tab doesn’t have any “history” to it.
–Other “Okay” Features–
Some of the things in Netscape 9 pertain only to the Netscape.com site, or aren’t that revolutionary. Since I don’t use Netscape.com I thought these features were a little lame:
- Sitemail Notification – This icon will sport an exclamation point when you have new Netscape.com sitemail messages waiting for you.
- In-browser voting – Share your opinions with the world! The icons in the Navigator address bar let you share interesting stories you find and vote on stories shared by others.
- Throbber – By popular demand, the Netscape 7-style throbber is back. Click on it any time to visit Netscape.com.
- Combined Stop/Reload button – To save space in your toolbar, we’ve combined the stop and reload buttons. Because you never need both at the same time, the toolbar will only show the relevant half of the pair.
- OPML Support – Netscape Navigator supports importing and exporting your bookmarks in OPML, a popular format for sharing lists of news feeds.
- News Tracker – The Netscape Tracker sidebar lets you monitor breaking news as it happens, via Netscape.com.
- Friends’ Activity Sidebar – If you are a member at Netscape.com, you can keep tabs on what your friends find interesting. This sidebar lets you view your friends latest votes, comments, and story submissions.
- News Menu and Sidebar – The latest news is built right into the browser, under the News menu. Provided by Netscape.com, you can customize the menu to only contain the news sections you want to monitor. You can also open the News sidebar to always keep an eye on what’s happening.
Despite the overloaded integration with Netscape.com, I would have to say that the Netscape browser is a step ahead of Firefox. I guess it ultimately depends on how you look at it since a lot of the features they included are also offered as Firefox extensions, but they did a great job bringing some unique things into the browser as well. I can see myself using the Link Pad quite frequently, as well as the mini browser in the sidebar.
Netscape Navigator 9 is currently in Beta so you could run into a few bumps while using it, although it did work flawlessly for me. You’ll find the download links here if you’re interested in trying out the free browser (for Windows, Mac, and Linux).
Thanks for the tip Mohan!