Netscape 7.1 Browser-Suite Released - AKA Mozilla 1.4
Mike Angelo -- 30 June 2003 (c)
Much as was the case with Netscape 6.1 and Netscape 7.0, Netscape 7.1 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 - 7.1 Release Notes indicate that Netscape 7.1 is has [m]any feature and usability improvements, including enhancements to message filters and instant messaging and Improved performance and stability.
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.
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.
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 was based on the Mozilla 1.0.2 code.
Netscape 7.1, replaces Netscape 7.0/7.01/7.02 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 Netscape 7.0 was based on pre-Mozilla 1.0.1 code -- rather outdated code by now. On the other hand, Netscape 7.1 is based on the latest Mozilla release, Mozilla 1.4. which also was released today.
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.
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 7.0/7.1.
Netscape 6.0/6.01 Was a Losing Battle in the Browser WarStarting 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. Two years ago, the then 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 7.0/7.1 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 KDE 3.1 Released -- Tabbed-Browsing Comes to KDE. 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 7.1 and see for yourself. (Download links on page 2.)
Now, AOL-Netscape has placed its new Netscape 7.1 on it public FTP servers for your scrutiny, and hopefully your Web browsing pleasure.
What's New in Netscape 7.1
According to the Netscape 7.0 - 7.1 Release Notes here is what's new in NS 7.1:
* Junk Mail Controls
* International Domain Names (IDN) make it possible to use characters from virtually any language (e.g., French, Japanese, Russian) for domain names.
* Radio@Netscape Plus
* Find As You Type, for navigating web pages using your keyboard
* Automatic image resizing, so that large images fit in the browser window
* Address Book sync with PalmTM-compatible devices
* Many feature and usability improvements, including enhancements to message filters and instant messaging
* Improved performance and stability
According to the Netscape 7.0 - 7.02 Release Notes here is what's new in NS 7.02:
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
According to the Netscape 7.0 Release Notes here is what was new in NS 7.0:
* Netscape Navigator
* Netscape Mail
* Address Book
* AOL Instant Messenger
* Netscape Composer
* Netscape Help and Support Center (Open the Help menu and choose Help and Support Center)
Netscape Quick Launch feature
The Netscape 7 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 - 7.1
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 700 open "crash" bugs and 185 open "dataloss" bugs in the Mozilla code-base upon which Netscape 7.1 is based.
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 7.1 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 one provides 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 7.1 could be even buggier than Netscape 6.2.
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 1.3 Browser-Suite Released. For updated Mozilla bug counts, please see the right sidebar on the MozillaQuest Magazine front page (mozillaquest.com).
(Security vulnerability recently reported by Grey Magic Software.)
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