Back in November of 2004 Firefox 1.0 was released as a simple Netscape-based web browser that quickly caught the attention of millions of people. Ever since I started using Firefox back then I never really thought to look back to see what Netscape was doing.
Well, upon returning to the Netscape Web Browser homepage I was a little surprised to see that they were in version 8. I never even heard about version 7! I guess I was a little out of the loop on this one but I thought I would see what it had to offer.
I downloaded the browser and started playing with it. My initial impression was very disappointing because there was something about the interface that made it feel cluttered…it was almost a reminder of using AOL’s software. It was tempting to throw in the towel but I decided to see what was so special. Slowly and surely I found several things that I really liked.
The feed manager that they have built-in isn’t nearly as great as I thought it was going to be. I would refer to it as an add-on to the live bookmarks because it isn’t nearly as powerful as the “My News” feature is that Flock has. It is, however, very similar to the feed preview that the upcoming Firefox 2 will have.
The thing that really shocked me (not for the good) was the advertisement on the right side of the feed that you are viewing. There isn’t one displayed in the screenshot above but typically there is a large banner advertisement shown.
The Security Center is located in the status bar and it is constantly making sure your web browsing is safe. When you download a file it will scan it to make sure there is no spyware and there is an anti-phishing mechanism built-in to help prevent identity theft. As you can tell from the screenshot there is also a lot more information that it provides you with to make sure you’re safe while you are on the Internet.
The Passcards feature is pretty cool because it offers more options for storing your passwords other than the typical “Remember Password”, “Not Now”, “Never For This Site” options. The cool feature here is that you can protect only certain sites with a Master Password. I think like that because I would like use it with my financial sites (credit card, bank, etc…) but not some of the less important sites that I log into.
–Internet Explorer Compatibility–
Okay, now this is one of the coolest features in my opinion. Netscape 8 renders websites using the Firefox engine unless you specify that you want it to use Internet Explorer. Firefox has a similar extension called IE Tab that offers the same feature but it is cool that this is built-in.
All you have to do is click on the icon in the status bar (just like IE Tab) and you can select to have it render the site as Internet Explorer. I decided to test this out using the Windows Update since it is the most famous “IE-Only” site on the Internet. Everything went very smoothly and it installed the ActiveX control that was needed just fine:
The last thing I checked out was the Options. This was probably the most drastic change from Firefox because I was used to the simple tabbed options. It was a little confusing at first but I was able to eventually figure it out.
I think that Netscape is a pretty cool browser but one of the biggest advantages of using Firefox is for the extensions, right? That’s the problem with Netscape because there are no extensions currently offered. The site where they are supposed to be posted says that they are coming soon and you should email any extensions that you develop to them.
I’m also not quite sure if Netscape, like Flock, has any plans to base their browser off of Firefox 2 but I think it would be smart. Firefox 2 will have some amazing features like the inline spell checking and the session restore which are both very important to me now. I don’t think I could ever switch to a browser that didn’t have those two things.
Who would have ever thought that a web browser based off of Netscape would become the base for Netscape?