Netscape 6: At Long-Awaited Last - HTML with Style | 7 | WebReference

Netscape 6: At Long-Awaited Last - HTML with Style | 7


Netscape 6: At Long-Awaited Last

The User Experience

Of course, besides all of the developers' arguments, the browser is also an end-user product, and must succeed in this way as well. Netscape 6 does well in this respect, but not truly excellent. The main complaints made against it in this area are its slow start-up times and the less-than-rare crashes.

I generally consider Netscape 6 to be stable, but that's probably because I've been used to working with Mozilla nightly builds for the past six months. The truth is that it will crash more than occasionally. It's definitely useable, but not incredibly robust.

Of course, this is a Point-Oh release. No doubt Netscape 6.1 will have most of the stability problems sorted, but it remains to be seen whether stability complaints for this release will hamper its acceptance by users.

Another thing I saw mentioned in many people's comments on the browser is the start-up time. It's true, from the moment you start the browser to the moment the first page pops up, you have enough time to write a small poem about disk seek times. This is due to two factors, first of all that the browser is a pretty monstrous beast that can do everything short of a double-shot mocha with extra cream, and secondly because people are used to Internet Explorer loading up in no time since most of it is already in memory thanks to Microsoft's intertwining of MSHTML.DLL into just about every Windows program you'll ever run.

This is not so much of a real problem, since once you've loaded Netscape 6 up, it works very fast, and new windows open up in no time at all, but this is a war of impressions, and anything negative about the browser can be used against it. Netscape is fighting an uphill battle convincing users that don't know a thing about elements and object models that it's a better browser than IE, and these things matter.

Netscape 6 is also chock full of user-astounding trickery such as the surprisingly useful Sidebar panel and the amazingly capable mailer (I'm one step away from giving up my beloved Pine, which has served me faithfully for over seven years now), searching from the location bar, the cute but ultimately useless themeable interface and other such gadgets that many people call innovation.

It's also chock full of "services" from Netscape's "partners," most notably AOL. If you install it brand new instead of upgrading a previous installation, you'll get the familiar jumble of links in your bookmarks and ads for services you most probably don't want. They've even integrated AOL Instant Messenger in there. Perhaps these things are truly useful to less experienced users, but I find it a hassle having to spend several minutes making them all go away.


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Produced by Stephanos Piperoglou
Created: November 30, 2000
Revised: November 30, 2000