My 2 Cents On Netscape 6

I only bother writing this because I've been reading all the "good news" about Netscape 6, and I'm wondering why I'm not hearing the bad.

I expect reviewers to put aside bias as much as possible when reviewing something. State their opinions, yes please, but try to be balanced within the review. I also think bad reviews are good for a product when they're true. (I also believe in candy and kittens and I grew up near Disneyland, okay? Look, I'm just trying to right small evils for now.) But I'm getting suspicious that all these positive reviews of Netscape 6 are a result of bad blood earned by Microsoft, and the ardent desire of web publishers to finally get browsers that adhere to browser standards. I'm suspicious because my experience tells me Netscape 6 sucks.

What follows is anecdotal. It's not a carefully structured review. It's only getting time of day to offset an imbalance I'm perceiving from my corner of the web. Please don't let it offend any brand-name nationalism you have. Please do go on to another topic. Please go read Slashdot.

I ran Netscape 4.72 daily and hard. Not for political reasons. I dislike a lot about Microsoft, but I run their software. I want my experience of the web to be similar to the majority experience. I want to be clear of what the State Of The User Art is, because I study that.

I did not, however, run Internet Explorer. The list of security patches was too long. Hence I had no faith that there weren't plenty more holes unpatched. It seemed like I would be installing an old screen door in my firewall, so I locked off IE. Just my opinion. Gut feelings and all that. I'm not an expert.

I was anxious to get Netscape 6. I knew full well IE 5 was a better browser than Netscape 4.72 -- several friends could not believe I was still putting up with Netscape and they showered me with their reasons. I also hated Netscape 4.72 for making me reboot my computer every 2 hours or 20 minutes because it was a memory leaking pig. And I hated it for crashing. So Netscape 6 got released and I installed it on the slowest machine I own just so I could get a measure of the speed difference between the browsers. I didn't want either to use the advantage of lots of ram and cpu to hide in. I used a P166 with only 24mb of ram, but attached to a cable modem. And the result was... the slowest browser I have ever used. I reinstalled. Same story. And that huge blue interface! What's with these people? I want to see the Web, not your damn cage!

This was not good. With Netscape gone bad this meant... this meant I installed IE 5.01 with all the patches. No point running with Netscape 4.72 any more than using Netscape 2.0 ; an old browser is a gone browser on the net.

What I cannot get over is how MUCH better IE is. Fast -- much faster. Faster to boot, faster to reload visited pages, faster to load plug-ins. Even on the slow machine these are close to instantaneous. Netscape 4.x and 6 are two generations slower than IE 5.01. My computer no longer needs rebooting to clear memory. IE 5.01 has not yet crashed. And the interface? The only thing I miss from Netscape is the bookmark file -- the way it flowed across my screen as well as down, letting me see more in an instant. And it had a faster way to add bookmarks. But IE 5.01 has a full screen view with the touch of a key. I have wanted this for years. Web pages are often beautiful. Web pages have navigation built in. So I've always wanted them to fill my screen alone, uncaged. I wrote Opera long ago with this suggestion and had hoped it might make it into ver 4. But here it is already in IE 5.01. Now I can use my computer to surf the Web; not to run a browser. Finally a piece of software that tries to be invisible.

That's my 2 cents. I don't like Microsoft for a lot of reasons. But they have a lovely and superior bit of software here and I think it's wrong that no one seems to want to admit this.

I do feel bad about Netscape. I'll miss Netscape. Like I miss the Amiga. But I don't use an Amiga for daily work anymore, and I don't kid anybody about that.

This site is strictly personal. I give no guarantee to the accuracy of my facts or my fictions.
© 2000 Owen Briggs
last modified on 11 April 2000