Journal: News & Comment

Wednesday, November 15, 2000
# 11:51:00 AM:

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Netscape 6 arrives -- but does anyone care?

Several years overdue, AOL/Netscape has finally released an official version of the Netscape 6 Web browser. (The last version was Netscape Communicator 4.7 -- they skipped 5 altogether.) It's an interesting product, completely different from its predecessors, very customizable, and apparently very good at adhering to Web standards.

Unfortunately, it kind of sucks on my Mac. Older Macs in particular (that is, anything released before 1999) run it rather slowly, and anything before Mac OS 9 has problems because of how many files Netscape 6 keeps open in the background. Some features are very un-Mac-like -- which is to be expected, since the browser is essentially identical in its Mac, Windows, and Linux/Unix versions. Some keyboard shortcuts don't work. And it has colour-handling problems on systems with more than one monitor that run at different colour depths.

From what I've seen on the Windows computer I use at work, Netscape 6 is better there. The rendering engine (called "Gecko") that actually displays Web pages is very fast on any platform, however. And since it is open source -- meaning anyone can access, use, and modify it -- I expect Gecko to appear in all sorts of other products. Netscape may never dominate Web browsers over Internet Explorer as it once did, but it's not going away anytime soon.

In short, Netscape 6 is usable, but so far isn't up to Internet Explorer, older versions of Netscape, or upstart browsers like iCab and Opera.


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