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Netscape 7.02 Browser-Suite Released


Mike Angelo -- 18 February 2003 (c)


Article Index

Netscape 6.0/6.01 a Losing Battle in the Browser War

Even AOL Rejects Netscape

Can Netscape 7 Save Netscape in the Browser War?

You Be the Judge

What's New in Netscape 7.02

Netscape Quick Launch feature

The Good and the Bugs in Netscape 7.0x

Download Netscape 7.02

Resources & Related Articles

AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division has placed its Netscape 7.02 (NS 7.02) browser-suite upgrade for the Linux, Macintosh, and Microsoft Windows platforms on its FTP servers for public downloading. Much as was the case with Netscape 6.1 and Netscape 7.0, Netscape 7.02 could be the make-or-brake, do-or-die, and last gasp Netscape browser offering. (Download links and release notes information further down.)

The Netscape 7.0 - 7.02 Release Notes indicate that Netscape 7.02 is a very minor update merely providing Enhanced security, Improved stability, New Macromedia® Flash 6 r65 plugin for Windows, and New Java 1.4.0_03 plugin for Windows.

According to the Netscape 7.0 and 7.01 Release Notes, Netscape 7.01 provided security fixes and added Popup Window Control, Home Page Group, and New AOL Mail features. Netscape 7.0 had lots of security and privacy bugs. Some of them were fixed in the Mozilla code-base shortly after release of Netscape 7.0. With little concern for the privacy of Netscape users and with little concern for security of Netscape users' computer systems, AOL-Time-Warner had waited more than two months to release an upgrade to its Netscape 7.0 browser-suite that closed those privacy and security exposures. Please see our 30 November 2002 article, Mozilla and Netscape JavaScript Bugs Compromise Privacy and Security, for more about that.

The addition of popup-window control is interesting. It's a feature that has been included in the Mozilla code-base for some time. AOL-Time-Warner bases its Netscape browser-suite releases upon the Mozilla code base. Scuttlebutt has been that AOL-TW did not want to allow its Netscape browser-suite and AOL client software users to block popup ads. Popup ads are something that greedy advertisers and Web site owners use to shove annoying advertising down the throats of Web surfers.

Note: There is nothing inherently wrong with Web page advertising. People and companies are entitled to make a buck. Our objection here is not to advertising per se. There is more than enough opportunity to place ads on Web pages without resorting to obnoxious and annoying popups. Popups can be a handy and useful way to provide legitimate content. Unfortunately, however, greedy companies such as AOL-TW-Netscape have exploited the useful popup-window to shove annoying advertising down Web surfers throats. That is our concern here.

What made the long overdue addition of popup-window control in Netscape 7.01 so interesting was the timing. Some national ISPs that are in heavy, aggressive competition with AOL, such as EarthLink, offered popup-window control. Additionally other Web browsers such as NetCaptor and CrazyBrowser have offered popup window blocking for some time now.

Popup-window blocking was available in Mozilla 1.0, which was released on 5 June 2002. However, Netscape 7.0 (released on 29 August) did not include Popup-window blocking. It certainly appears that AOL-TW's decision to NOT include popup-window blocking in Netscape 7.0 was a greed decision, not a technical decision.

Do the math. It appears the main, if not only, reason AOL-TW added popup-window blocking to its Netscape browser was because of the competition -- not because AOL-Netscape has the users' interests at heart.

Netscape 7.0-PR1 (NS 7.0-PR1) was made available for public downloading on 22 May 2002. It was based on the Mozilla 1.0-RC2 source code. AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division opened its Netscape 7.0 browser suite for public downloading on 29 August 2002. The Mozilla 1.0.1-RC1 or RC2 souce code likely was the base for Netscape 7.0. Netscape 7.01 likely was based on post-Mozilla-1.0.1 code -- and could have been based on what became Mozilla 1.0.2 code, which was later released on 15 January 2003. Likely Netscape 7.02 is based on the Mozilla 1.0.2 code.

Netscape 7.02, replaces Netscape 7.0/7.01 in the AOL-Netscape browser-suites line-up. Netscape 7.0 was based on pre-Mozilla 1.0.1 code -- rather outdated code by now. Meanwhile the latest Mozilla release is Mozilla 1.2.1. For the most part, the Mozilla 1.2.1 code is well-advanced over the Mozilla 1.0.1 code and the Mozilla 1.0.2 code. Mozilla 1.3 is scheduled for release on 21 February 2003.

Since the release of Mozilla 1.0/1.0.1 there has been substantial polish improvement in the Mozilla code-base. Many bugs have been squashed -- although there are more bugs now than then. Some neat new features have been added. So, that makes Netscape 7.0/7.01/7.02 code outdated.

However, it appears the Netscape developers added some features not found in the Mozilla 1.0, et seq., code base to Netscape 7.01 (Home Page Group, and New AOL Mail features). This could indicate that AOL-TW-Netscape is pulling some of its developers and browser development out of the Mozilla project and moving them behind the AOL-TW-Netscape firewall.

Tabbed Browsing is neither an original nor unique Netscape/Mozilla browser feature. Stilesoft's NetCaptor browser had tabbed-browsing before Netscape/Mozilla had it and was the first Web browser to have tabbed browsing.

NetCaptor is for the Microsoft Windows platform. At least three other MS Windows browsers, Crazy Browser, Mozilla 1.x, and Opera have tabbed browsing. The Netscape 7 tabbed browsing of course is Mozilla's tabbed browsing feature.

In the Linux arena Opera already has tabbed-browsing. So does the KDE Konqueror browser have Tabbed browsing now, too.

Netscape/Mozilla's Tabbed-Browsing feature is based on MultiZilla, a Mozilla add-on created by Henk-Johan van Rantwijk and a few others well before the Mozilla Organization decided to adopt a tabbed-browsing feature for the Mozilla browser. However, MultiZilla has lots more neat, tabbed-browsing related features than does the Mozilla tabbed-browsing. For a more thorough discussion of tabbed-browsing, please see the Tabbed Browsing section of our Mozilla 1.0 browser review.

(Links for Crazy Browser, Multizilla, and NetCaptor in the Resources section on Page 3 of our Mozilla 1.0 browser review.)



Note: please be careful not to confuse Netscape 6.1 with 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.

If there is a killer feature in the Mozilla 1.0 / Netscape 7.0/7.0.1 code that had set the Mozilla-based browsers apart from other browsers, it is the Tabbed Browsing feature. However, tabbed browsing is not unique to the Mozilla/Netscape browsers. Please see the Tabbed Browsing sidebar to the right.

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 AOL-Netscape bloatware such as AIM, Net2Phone, portal stuff, and so forth to produce a Netscape suite.

Many of the pros and cons discussed in our comprehensive Mozilla 1.0 coverage also apply to Netscape 7.0/7.01/7.02.

Netscape 6.0/6.01 Was a Losing Battle in the Browser War

Starting with the first Netscape 6 preview release (Netscape 6 PR1), in April 2000 and then through the NS 6 PR 2, NS 6 PR3, Netscape 6.0 and Netscape 6.01 editions, Netscape 6.x came under heavy criticism from the computer trade press, consumers, loyal Netscape fans, and developers.Last year, the four dominant Linux distribution packagers, Caldera, Mandrake, Red Hat, and SuSE had declined to include Netscape 6.0/6.01 in their Linux Distributions. Rather, they opted to include Netscape 4.7x. That pretty much kicked Netscape 6 off the Linux desktop.

The inclusion of tabbed browsing in Netscape 7 helped Netscape to recover some of its lost Linux desktop ground. However, now that KDE's Konqueror browser has tabbed browsing, Netscape could lose more ground on 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?

Even AOL Rejects Netscape

Perhaps the even worse news for the Netscape folks is that its own parent company, AOL-Time-Warner rejected Netscape 6.1. AOL selected Microsoft Internet Explorer instead of Netscape 6.1 for its previous released AOL 7.0 and newly released AOL 8.0 client software. AOL has some 31-million users. Because AOL selected Internet Explorer (IE) instead of Netscape for its AOL 7.0 and 8.0 client software, Microsoft IE got 31-million users that Netscape did not get.

Moreover, it's likely that AOL will not use the Netscape browser in future AOL client software releases. Rather it appears that AOL will use only the Netscape Gecko rendering and layout engine - but not the Netscape browser per se.

AOL already is experimenting with Gecko in AOL and CompuServe client software betas. For more information about AOL's rejection of the Netscape browser and its plans for Gecko technology, please see our article AOL 7.0: Good News for AOL Users & Microsoft - Bad News for Netscape & Mozilla

Can Netscape 7.0/7.01/7.02 Save Netscape in the Browser War?

The pressure is on AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division to win back all the consumers, discouraged loyal Netscape fans, and developers that it has lost since the release of Netscape 6 PR1. It also needs to convince the Linux distribution packagers that Netscape 7 is worthy of the Linux desktop.

That could be a difficult task. So far, the major Linux packagers seem to prefer Mozilla to Netscape 6.x and 7.x. Also, the major Linux distribution packagers include the KDE desktop and its Konqueror browser. Konqueror is a very nice browser and file manager, which is well-integrated into the KDE desktop. For more information about that please see our article Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 -- A First Look.

You Be the Judge

Will Netscape 7 be able to meet that Herculean challenge? You be the judge. Download a copy of Netscape 7.02 and see for yourself. (Download links on page 2.)

Now, AOL-Netscape has placed its new Netscape 7.02 on it public FTP servers for your scrutiny, and hopefully your Web browsing pleasure.

What's New in Netscape 7.0/7.01/7.02

According to the Netscape 7.0 - 7.02 Release Notes here is what's new in NS 7.02:

* Enhanced security

* Improved stability

* New Macromedia® Flash 6 r65 plugin for Windows

* New Java 1.4.0_03 plugin for Windows

According to the Netscape 7.0 and 7.01 Release Notes here is what was new in NS 7.01:

New in Netscape 7.01

* Popup Window Controls let you suppress pop-up ads when browsing. In Preferences, double-click the Privacy & Security category and choose Popup Window Controls.

* Home Page Group feature lets you automatically open several of your favorite pages as tabs when starting Netscape. After opening two or more pages, open the Edit menu and choose Preferences. Click "Use Current Group" in the Navigator preference panel.

* New AOL Mail features let you unsend mail, check message status, and keep messages marked as new.

* COPPA Compliance and improved security including greater control of certificates.

According to the Netscape 7.0 Release Notes here is what was new in NS 7.0:

* Netscape Navigator

o Tabbed Browsing feature lets to visit multiple web pages in a single window: Tabbed Browsing can be launched in one of three ways: from the File menu, choose New, then Navigator Tab; or you can right-mouse click on a hypertext link and open its contents in a new tab; or for those who prefer keystrokes, Ctrl+T opens a new tab.

o GroupMarks (Bookmark Groups) lets you bookmark several web pages in one bookmark: Open two or more Navigator tabs, then open the Bookmarks menu and choose File Bookmark. Check "File as group."

o Radio@Netscape lets you listen to music over the Internet: Click Radio in the Personal Toolbar.

o Click-to-Search lets you search for words you select in a web page: Select any word in a web page, right-click, and select "Web Search ..."

o My Sidebar Search Tooltips display information when you place the mouse over search results in My Sidebar Search.

o Download Manager lets you view and manage all your downloads: Open the Tools menu and select Download Manager.

o Web Site Icon (Favicon) support: Web Site Icons show up next to the URL in the Location bar, in bookmarks, and in Navigator tabs when using Tabbed Browsing.

o Save whole web pages: Save a whole web page along with graphics by choosing "Web Page, Complete" when saving web pages.

o Full Screen Mode gives more space to view web pages: Open the View menu and choose Full Screen, or press F11.

o Drag and drop bookmarks into folders, as well as improved bookmark management such as bookmark sorting.

o Print Preview lets you see a page before you print it: Open the File menu and choose Print Preview.

o Print Setup gives you greater control over how you print: Open the File menu and choose Page Setup.

o P3P (Privacy Preference Project) support give you more control over how web pages can use your personal information.

o Update Notification tells you when a updates to Netscape are available: Open Preferences and choose Advanced > Software Installation.

o Easier to open and close My Sidebar: Click the X in the top right corner of My Sidebar to close it. Click the Open/Close icon on the left side of the Personal Toolbar to open it up again.

o Set as Wallpaper: Right-click on any image in Navigator and choose Set As Wallpaper.

* Netscape Mail

o Mail Notification in Netscape Mail shows how many new emails you have.

o Quick Search in Netscape Mail and Address Book lets you more easily search your messages and contacts: Look for it at the top of your message and contact list.

o Mail labels allow you to prioritize your emails: Right-click on a message in your message list and choose Label.

o Create Filter from Message lets you add filters to Netscape Mail based on information in the message: Click on a message header in an email and choose "Create Filter from Message."

o Return receipts in Netscape Mail allow you to send and request confirmation that an email is received. To request a return receipt while writing an email, open the Option menu and check Return Receipt.

o Improved email importing in Netscape Mail: Netscape now supports importing email from Netscape Communicator, Eudora, Outlook, Outlook Express, and text files (LDIF, .tab, .csv, .txt). Open the Tools menu in Netscape Mail and choose Import.

o New corporate features in Netscape Mail including S/MIME, Shared folders for IMAP, Secure LDAP, and Offline LDAP.

* Address Book

o New support for exporting contacts: In Address Book, open the Tools menu and choose Export.

o Get Map: Click Get Map in a card with an address to automatically see a map using MapQuest.

* AOL Instant Messenger

o Buddy Icons: Choose your own icons that show up while chatting with your buddies.

o Buddy Alerts: Set up sound and window alerts when specific buddies come online.

o File Transfer: Send files to your buddy's PC.

o AIM Today: Keeps you informed about the AIM community, the latest news, and the newest Buddy Icons.

o Server-side Buddy List storage: Lets you access you Buddy List from any computer.

o New integrated ICQ: Chat with your ICQ friend using ICQ within Netscape.

o Sign On at Launch: Sign onto AOL Instant Messenger when you start your computer.

* Netscape Composer

o One-button publishing in Netscape Composer.

* Netscape Help and Support Center (Open the Help menu and choose Help and Support Center)

o New search feature lets you search for help topics. Click the Search tab in the Help window.

o Improved index and glossary: Click the Index or Glossary tab in the Help window.

o New information on Netscape keyboard shortcuts: Click Netscape Keyboard Shortcuts in the Contents tab.

The Netscape 7 browser suite is based upon the cross-platform (XP), open source, Mozilla browser-suite. The current, latest Milestone Mozilla browser-suite release is Mozilla 1.2.1. It was released 2 December 2002.

To create your own Netscape 7 themes or to build your own customized Mozilla-based browser suite, please see:
Simply put, AOl's 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. AOL's 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 AOL's Netscape 7.x browser suite.

Netscape Quick Launch feature

The fairly new Netscape Quick Launch feature for the Windows edition loads some core Mozilla code when the system is booted. That means that Netscape will start more quickly when you open it because some of the Mozilla code already is loaded into Windows Memory. (Windows Memory includes both actual physical RAM memory plus virtual, swap file, memory on a hard drive.)

Quick Launch in Netscape 7 is meant to try to make Netscape 7 more competitive with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which seems to start more quickly than does Netscape 7.

The upside to Quick Launch is that Netscape 7 starts faster than it would without Quick Launch mode. One downside to Quick Launch mode is that it adds a few seconds to the amount of time it takes Windows to boot.

Another downside is that you waste resources by using the Quick Launch mode until you use, and if you actually decide to use, Netscape for that session. (Session is the period from the time that you start your computer until you turn it off or reboot.)

MozillaQuest Magazine recommends that you NOT enable Quick-Launch mode -- because the downsides outweigh the upside. The Mozilla folks call Quick-Launch turbo mode. For a more thorough discussion of Quick-Launch, please see our article Turbo Mode & Bugs Slow Mozilla Development to Snail's Pace.

The Good and the Bugs in Netscape 7.0/7.01/7.02

At the time Netscape 6.2 was released, there were nearly 3,900 bugs in Mozilla, using conservative bug counting techniques -- many more (16,000+) if you apply less conservative bug counting techniques. That's too many bugs for a commercial product.

All told, the Mozilla browser suite upon which Netscape 7.0/7.01/7.02 is based is a nice browser. And it has come a long way in the nearly three years since Netscape 6 PR1 was released. However, when Netscape 7.0 was released, there were more than 12,000 bugs in Mozilla, using conservative bug counting techniques -- more than 26,000 bugs if you apply less conservative bug counting techniques -- more than 29,000 when Netscape 7.01 was released. That datum now is more than 30,000. That's too many bugs for a commercial product.

When Netscape 7.0 was released, there were some 668 open "crash" bugs and nearly 160 open "dataloss" bugs in the Mozilla code-base. Now, there are more than 659 open "crash" bugs and more than 180 open "dataloss" bugs in the Mozilla code-base.

For more information about Mozilla bugs please see our article A Quick Look at Some Mozilla 1.0 Browser-Suite Annoyances, Bugs, And Issues.

Please keep in mind that because the Netscape browser-suite is based on Mozilla code, it inherits the bugs that are in that Mozilla code. Also, all the bugs do not apply to all platforms. Some bugs only occur on Linux installations, some only on Windows installations, some only on Mac installations, and so forth. Moreover, people that use only the browser component will not experience bugs that are specific to the e-mail module or other Mozilla browser-suite modules -- and so forth.

Some of the bugs included in the bug-counts are minor and trivial sorts of things such as misspelled words in menus. Others as noted above involve system crashes, application lock-ups, and data losses.

Bug counts are important in program development and project management. However, users will judge Netscape 7.0/7.01/7.02 more by their own, hands-on, experiences with the bugs while using the software rather than by bug-count statistics.

If whatever bugs users actually experience do not annoy them, they will be happy with the product. On the other hand, if users are annoyed by the bugs, then they will not be happy. A good way to keep users from being annoyed by bugs is to get rid of the bugs before you provide the user with the software. That means that cutting down bug counts is very important.

Unless AOL-Time-Warner's Netscape division wants Netscape 7 to be another loser, it is going to have to reduce substantially the number of bugs in Netscape 7. However, there are more bugs in the Netscape underlying Mozilla code-base now then there were when the Netscape 6.2.x series was carved out of the Mozilla code-base. That suggests that Netscape 7.0/7.01/7/02 could be even buggier than Netscape 6.2.

Note: Usually, the Netscape developers take over control of the branch of the Mozilla milestone upon which a Netscape release will be based after the milestone is released. In the case of Netscape 7.0, it is likely that was Mozilla Milestone 1.0.1-RC1 or RC2. During the period of time from when the Netscape developers take the branch until they release a Netscape edition, inter alia they fix bugs. So many of the bugs that were in Mozilla 1.0.1-RC1 or RC2. have been fixed. It likely is a similar situation with Netscape 7.02.
Please see the bugs list in the right-hand sidebar on the MozillaQuest Magazine front page (mozillaquest.com) for the updated Mozilla bug counts. To learn more about how many bugs there are in the Netscape 7 and Mozilla Web browser suites, and to learn how the Mozilla and Netscape developers are sweeping bugs under the carpet, please see Mozilla 0.9.3 Branched Behind Schedule & Buggy.

For more information about the Mozilla browser-suite and downloading it, please see our recent article Mozilla Milestone 1.2.1 Browser-Suite Released. For updated Mozilla bug counts, please see the right sidebar on the MozillaQuest Magazine front page (mozillaquest.com).


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(Security vulnerability recently reported by Grey Magic Software.)



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