In the early days of the public (not academic) Internet, I had the pleasure of watching NCSA Mosaic load a web page and some graphics (slowly) on my Mac. Ecstasy. What a cool way to communicate. It was just week’s later that “Mozilla” became Netscape, Netscape became and company, and browsing on a computer changed forever.
Today, Netscape (now a part of AOL) released version 7.2. It’s a free download, so you’ll get at least what you pay for.
Is Netscape worth the ride? Or, is it like Napster; the glory days are long gone? Of course, you’ll have to be the judge, but here’s a quick comparison of Netscape 7.2 to a very modern browser, Apple’s Safari for Mac OS X.
First, Netscape remains full featured. It looks and behaves like a Mac application. There’s even Aqua tabs. There’s also a few leftover elements from previous Netscape days. The Netscape logo, the “N” craddling the horizon, is still there. Little lavender folders and green tags abound, a Netscape tradition.
Still embedded into this version of Netscape is the HTML editor, somewhat slow, but a capable editor, nonetheless. Also remaining is the embedded Netscape email manager (including News Groups). These have been around in Netscape since at least version 2.0. Both work well; most people don’t edit HTML, and everyone already has a favorite email application.
Who reads News Groups anymore?
Tabbed browsing came to earlier versions of Netscape and it’s cousin, Mozilla. They’re in version 7.2 as well, but nothing new. Netscape seems to have missed the extra tab “touches” found in Camino, and opening multiple tabs from the same book mark list (nicely done in Safari and Camino) seems to be missing.
Managing bookmarks remains intuitive if a bit Windows-like. Safari wins on this one.
My favorite Safari feature, besides the speed, is the pop-up blocker. It blocks ads, not legitimate pop-up utility windows. Netscape has a similar feature and it works well. You can even add specific web sites to allow pop ups. While that sounds OK, it’s something else you have to remember.
Netscape’s Preferences, like the predecessors, is loaded with options. Appearance, Navigator, Composer (the HTML editor), Mail & Newsgroups, they’re all there.
I said there’s plenty of features, right? Here’s a few you won’t find in Safari:
• Instant Messenger (this is an AOL product, remember?)
• Icons all over the freakin’ place
Besides simplicity and elegance, Mac users have taken to Safari as the main browser mostly because of speed. Safari is quick. Netscape, even with a new version and newer “engine” code, lags behind. In tests non-cache tests opening Mac360 and a handful of other pages, Safari was a good 30-percent faster.
Page rendering was acceptable and provided pages that looked virtually identical to Safari, with few exceptions.
Speed and elegance aside, Netscape will appeal to users who love to “tinker around” with their browsers because there’s more to tweak in Preferences than W. Bush has malappropisms or non-sequiturs, more chutzpuh than RealNetworks’ CEO Rob Glaser. You get the idea.
You can tweak Privacy and Security, Cookies, Images, Pop Up Windows, Forms, passwords, Certificates, SSL, Scripts and Plugins, Cache (Safari needs that), Proxies, the Mouse, Languages, Fonts, Colors, Themes (very nice except there’s very few), History, Search, Downloads, and the Tool Bars.
Tweak, tweak, and more tweak.
There’s no built-in Google search, of course. You have to click to open a search window and search is limited to, uh, well, Netscape’s search network.
I thought you’d like to know.
All in all, Netscape is like cousin Mozilla. It’s a decent browser. It’s multi-platform (sorta). It’s stable and generally performs well. It’s not fast, but there’s a price to pay for all that tweaking ability (many features).
Security? Almost anything running on Mac OS X will be more secure than anything running on Windows and Netscape is no exception. The latest version seems to have plugged most the holes that needed plugging.
Should you switch from Safari? Should you care? At this stage of the game, 10 full years since Netscape the company (and browser) launched, it probably doesn’t matter any more.
For a look at all Mac browsers, Click Here.