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Netscape 6.2 Browser-Suite Coming Soon?

Mike Angelo -- 10 October 2001 (c)

Webmaster´s Note: Netscape 6.1 was released 30 October 2001. Please see our story, Netscape 6.2 Browser-Suite Released, for download links and the details.

Look for the next Netscape 6.x release soon, maybe. After Mozilla Milestone 0.9.4 was released, the Netscape developers took over the Mozilla 0.9.4 branch to groom it into a Netscape browser-suite release. That happened nearly a month ago on 14 September. For more information about Mozilla 0.9.4, please see our article, Mozilla Milestone 0.9.4 Browser-Suite Released.

What now seems ages ago, it appeared that AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division would be releasing Netscape 6.5 in October 2001. However, that was when the Mozilla Organization was suggesting that it would have Mozilla 1.0 ready for release in October 2001.

Unfortunately since then, the Mozilla 1.0 release schedule has eroded. It now appears that the earliest time for the Mozilla 1.0 release would be January 2002. However, as a practical matter Mozilla 1.0 is more likely to be at least five or six months away at this time. For more information about the Mozilla schedule please see Mozilla Roadmap - Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to 2002 - Mozilla 0.9.4 Set for 7 September.

AOL-Netscape likely still plans to tie its Netscape 6.5 release to Mozilla 1.0. If that is so, the Mozilla 0.9.4 based Netscape edition likely will be labeled Netscape 6.2. That of course is a guess.

Even when Catherine Corre does answer questions, you cannot always believe what she says. For example, in August 2001 Corre, in effect, denied that the Netscape 6 browser-suite is based upon Mozilla code. That of course is in incorrect and absurd. It is well-known that AOL-Netscape bases its Netscape 6 browser suite on Mozilla code. For more about Corre's preposterous denial, please see our article Mozilla 0.9.2.1 AKA Netscape 6.1 Browser Source Code Released.

As usual Netscape's un-cooperative spokesperson, Catherine Corre, failed to answer questions about Netscape 6 browser updates. Therefore this article is based on MozillaQuest staff research, discussions with sources that wish to remain anonymous, and some guessing on our part.

The reason Netscape editions are tied to Mozilla browser-suite releases is that the basic Netscape browser suite is built on top of the underlying Mozilla browser-suite code. The AOL-Netscape developers grab the Mozilla source code. Then they customize it and tweak it to suit their objectives. And they add the Netscape bloatware such as AIM, Net2Phone, portal stuff, and so forth to produce a Netscape suite.

Netscape 6.2, or whatever this next Netscape release is labeled, will be an upgrade from the current Netscape 6.0, Netscape 6.01, and Netscape 6.1 browser-suite editions. It's for the Linux, Macintosh, and Microsoft Windows platforms and likely will be available for free downloading on the Netscape FTP servers when it is released to the public.

Please be careful not to confuse Netscape 6.1 with the prior released Netscape 6.01. Netscape 6.01 did not add anything particularly new to Netscape 6. It primarily was a patch to clean up problems with Netscape 6.0. There was lots of new stuff for Netscape 6.1.

Will Version 6.2 Help Netscape to Recover Lost Market Share?

Netscape 6.2 could be the last gasp for AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape browser offering. Starting with the first Netscape 6 preview release (Netscape 6 PR 1), in April 2000 and then through the NS 6 PR 2, NS 6 PR 3, Netscape 6.0 and Netscape 6.01 editions, Netscape 6 has come under heavy criticism from the computer trade press, consumers, loyal Netscape fans, and developers.

Fortunately for AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division, Netscape 6.1 has lots of improvements since the Netscape 6.0 and Netscape 6.01 editions. There has not been the heavy criticism for Netscape 6.1 that there was for the Netscape 6.0 and Netscape 6.01 editions. Moreover, users seem to like the many user-interface and user-experience improvements. For more information about what's new and improved in Netscape 6.1 (NS 6.1), please see our article, Netscape 6.1 Browser-Suite Released.

Hopefully Netscape 6.2, or whatever this next Netscape release is labeled, will have some nice improvements too. However, Netscape's un-cooperative spokesperson, Catherine Corre failed to answer our questions about what is new in the upcoming Netscape release. So, we are constrained to leave the good news about improvements, whatever they might be, out of this article.

The four dominant Linux distribution packagers, Caldera, Mandrake, Red Hat, and SuSE rejected Netscape 6.x for inclusion as a default browser in their recent Linux distributions. That pretty much kicks Netscape off the Linux desktop. Microsoft's Internet Explorer kicked Netscape off the Windows desktop some time ago. Please see our two part series, Is Netscape Losing the Browser Wars? Part I: Linux Could Be Netscape's Last Browser Battlefield and Part II: Why Are Major Linux Distributions Rejecting Netscape 6?

The pressure is on AOL-Time-Warner's (AOL) Netscape division (NSCP) to win back all the consumers, discouraged loyal Netscape fans, and developers that it has lost since the release of Netscape 6 PR 1 more than a year ago. The Netscape Division also needs to convince the Linux distribution packagers that Netscape 6.x is worthy of the Linux desktop.

You Be the Judge

Will Netscape 6.2 be able to meet that awesome challenge? You be the judge. Download a copy of Netscape 6.2 when it is released to the public and see for yourself. Or if you have not already done so, grab a copy of Netscape 6.1 in the meantime and give it a try. To download and install the Netscape 6.1 browser suite, please see: Netscape 6.1 Browser-Suite Released.

Check the MozillaQuest Magazine front page (mozillaquest.com) regularly for updated news about the upcoming Netscape 6.2 release and for Netscape 6.2 download links when it is available..

Netscape 6 Is Based on the Mozilla Browser Suite

The initial Netscape 6.0 browser suite was made available for public downloading on 9 November 2000, some eleven months ago. Then on 8 February 2001, AOL's Netscape Division placed the Netscape 6.01 browser-suite upgrade on its FTP servers. Netscape 6.1 Preview Release 1 was made available for public downloading on 13 June 2001. Netscape 6.1 was made available "officially" on 8 August 2001. Please see our article Netscape 6.1 Browser-Suite Released Again? for more information about the Netscape 6.1 release.

The Netscape 6 browser suite is based upon the cross-platform (XP), open source, Mozilla browser-suite. The current Milestone Mozilla browser-suite release is Mozilla 0.9.4. It was released 14 September 2001.

Simply put, the Netscape Division grabs the Mozilla source code, adds its own and third party products such as Net2Phone and AIM, and then puts its own Netscape branding on the added-too and customized Mozilla-base. The Netscape Division also adds its portal and bookmark items to the Mozilla-base while customizing the underlying Mozilla browser suite. Stir all that together and voila, that's the Netscape 6 browser suite.

Netscape & Mozilla Better & Buggier

All told, the Mozilla browser suite upon which Netscape 6.2 will be based is a nice browser. And it has come a long way since early February, which is when Netscape 6.01 was released. However, there are more than 3,600 bugs in Mozilla, using conservative bug counting techniques and more than 15,000 bugs if you apply less conservative bug counting techniques. That's too many bugs for a commercial product.

Earlier today, there were some 63 bugs targeted to Mozilla Milestone 0.9.5, 1,347 bugs targeted to Mozilla Milestone 0.9.6, 355 bugs targeted to Mozilla Milestone 0.9.7, and 1,916 bugs targeted to Mozilla 1.0. That's a total of 3,681 bugs targeted to these four, work-in-progress, Mozilla releases.

At the time Netscape took over the Mozilla 0.9.4 branch, there were some 44 bugs targeted to Milestone 0.9.4, 1,150 bugs targeted to Mozilla 0.9.5, 196 bugs to 0.9.6, 57 bugs targeted to 0.9.7, and 1,656 bugs targeted to Mozilla 1.0. That's a total of 3,103 bugs targeted to these five, work-in-progress, Mozilla releases upon which the next preview Netscape 6.1 will be based. All those 3,103 bugs were in Mozilla 0.9.4 when Netscape took over the Mozilla 0.9.4 branch. They just are not expected to be fixed until release of the specified targets.

Incidentally, the comparable bug count when the Netscape developers took over the Mozilla 0.9.2 branch to prepare Netscape 6.1 was 2,915 bugs. That suggests that Netscape 6.2 could be even buggier than Netscape 6.1

Incidentally, there are some 4,851 bugs targeted to Future Mozilla releases. Please see the bugs list in the right-hand sidebar on the MozillaQuest Magazine front page (mozillaquest.com) for the updated Mozilla bug counts.

Unless AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division wants Netscape 6.2 to be another loser, it is going to have to reduce substantially the number of bugs in Netscape 6.2. Hopefully the Netscape Division will do that before it releases Netscape 6.2 to the public -- even if that means putting off that release until the lion's share of the bugs is fixed.

That of course is a tough choice. Should AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division release a buggy Netscape 6.2 browser sooner or a less buggy Netscape 6.2 browser later? Either way, AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division will be criticized. There will be criticism if Netscape 6.2 is buggy. And there will be criticism if there is any further delay in releasing Netscape 6.2.

To create your own Netscape 6 themes or to build you own customized Mozilla-based browser suite, please see:

MozillaQuest the Series: Building Your Own Mozilla-Based Web Browser

For more information about the Mozilla browser-suite and downloading it, please see our recent article Mozilla Milestone 0.9.4 Browser-Suite Released. For updated Mozilla bug counts, please see the right sidebar on the MozillaQuest Magazine front page (mozillaquest.com).

To download and install the Netscape 6.1 browser suite, please see: Netscape 6.1 Browser-Suite Released.

Stay Tuned


Additional Resources & Related Articles

Composer: The Netscape & Mozilla Graphical HTML Editor & Word Processor

Netscape 6.1 PR 1 Browser-Suite Released.

Netscape 6.01 Browser-Suite Released

Is Netscape Losing the Browser Wars?


Mozilla Milestone 0.9.3 Browser-Suite Released

Mozilla Milestone 0.9.1 Browser-Suite Released

Mozilla 0.9.1 Branches Behind Schedule

Mozilla 0.9.1, AKA Netscape 6.5 beta-1, Behind Schedule Already

Mozilla Roadmap Plan Changed Again -- Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to Q4 20001


The Snail Moves: Mozilla Milestone 0.9 Browser-Suite Released

More Mozilla Roadmap & Development Plan Changes: Mozilla 1.0 Pushed Back to Q3 2001

Mozilla 1.0 Release Pushed Back -- Milestone 0.8.1 Inserted into Development Roadmap Schedule


Lizard On The Move: Mozilla Milestone 0.8.1 Browser-Suite Released

The Lizard Marches On: Mozilla Milestone 0.8 Browser-Suite Released

Mozilla Milestone 0.8 Browser-Suite RPM Builds Released


Meet Bugzilla -- Mozilla's Secretary of Bug-Busting & Feature Requests Lizard

Mozilla Organization Revises Development Roadmap and Product Release Schedule

MozillaQuest the Series: Building Your Own Mozilla-Based Web Browser

For more information about the Mozilla Organization, the Mozilla applications programming framework, and the Mozilla browser, please see:

Please do not forget to report bugs, problems, or suggestions for enhancements to Bugzilla.

For more information about the Mozilla Roadmap and Milestone Plan, please see:

Mozilla Development Roadmap

Mozilla Milestone Plan

Project Sea Monkey


Copyright 2000, 2001 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved


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