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     Bo Reviews Netscape 6.01

Updated 06/19/02

Netscape Launches It's Pre-Release of the Long Awaited Upgrade to Communicator 4.72.
But, is it worth the download? Not in my humble opinion!
Netscape has release Netscape 6.0, You'll need help so click here
Netscape has released Netscape 6.01, See Bo's Review by clicking here

I am always one to take a chance on pre releases. Curiosity being the main motivator. Not for as many years as I care to remember have I seen a product as unworthy of download time as Netscape 6.0 Pre-Release 1. In all fairness to AOL, the new owners of Netscape, they clearly warn you before you download that this is not the final product. Yes, all beta versions have their little quarks and bugs, but this beta shoots right past mildly annoying and right into, "What the hell have I gotten into here"!

Want a more optimistic report from those that are in the know? Then check out,
"Labs'-Eye View: Netscape 6 Preview Release 1"
Netscape's start up screen says it all.

If you are going to look at the Pre Release 1 of Netscape 6.0, do it from as far away as possible!

First let me say that Netscape 6.0 does show some promise, there is smart browsing, all be it rather cluncky.

Netscape claims that it has a smaller footprint then that of Internet Explorer 5.01, and to an extent that is true. However, if you opt, as I did, for the custom setup, prepare to spend some time with your family while waiting for the download. Can you remember when Microsoft used to compare it's browser to Netscape? This in itself should tell you who is in the lead now. From what I have seen, there isn't any danger of that lead diminishing with the pre release version.

First, lets look at the browser end of 6.0.

As you can see, Netscape is trying something new. It is a tabbed section for your push content. Unfortunately, it is neither new, nor is it inventive. Neoplanet's first wrapper had this feature, only it was better designed and more user friendly. I am using a Pentium 166 with 48 MB of EDO Ram and it bogged the old girl down to a crawl, as did the subsequent parts of the product I tried. If you have a speed burner then you may have a better experience than I did. If you are using a machine that is slower than mine, forget about it!

The tabs on the browser window can be moved off screen out of the way when not in use. This is done using the same technique that Netscape has used for years. The same method used in it's old browses and mail clients. There is a small lighter colored bar on the side of the window itself that once depressed folds the tab to the side of the browser out of the way. Again, nothing new, innovative, or even mildly interesting. Sorry folks!

Another thing that I found vastly annoying was the way bookmarks were handled, or should I say not handled! I had great expectations for this version in the book marking department. If anything, Netscape 6.0 is a giant step backwards. Backwards being the optimum word here! In Netscape 4.72 and earlier versions you could organize bookmarks (Nothing more then an HTML document to store saved web address) by clicking on the EDIT BOOKMARKS button. Guess what, there is no such luxury in this version. Only an add and organize button. The add button just drops the book mark into the ledger wily nilly. The organizer is anything but. Try to make a new folder, no problem, accept you can't store anything in it. Use of CTL key commands is,  off again on again, mostly off, to say the least.

Want a rosier picture of Netscape 6.0? Read ZDNET News for that, you ain't going to find it here.

Don't you have anything good to say about this beta version? You are asking yourself. Yup, that's right, I can hear you thinking! Well, there is an attempt at smart browsing, such as you find in Internet Explorer 5.01. After using the smart browsing and automatic forms injector, 6.0 shows some promise, though it be slight. I hope the folks at Netscape will improve on this feature just a little though. I still have to give the points to Explorer on this one.

Surely the mail client is vastly improved over the 4.72 version right? Sorry, not even close. It is an extension of the same cluncky style as the browser window, which by the way leaves much to be desired.

    Do you see a pattern developing here? Yeah, push technology all the way. Same browser layout means same email and news skins. Though in all fairness you will be able to change the skins in the final release. Of course, Netscape said that you could change the skin design in this version as well. Okay, I'll have to take their word for that. My system kept locking up every time I attempted to try it. So much for ease of use!

What about Composer in the new release? Surely they have vastly improved on that? Right?

Well, in a way, I suppose that they have. Unfortunately, it ate my start page. After it locked up, which seemed to be a common occurrence, I was unable to open my index page after the reboot operation. When it worked it showed some promise. It did have true WYSIWYG (Geek talk for, it looks like it does on the web site). I did have some high hopes for this. After the html file had been corrupted I decided to junk this turkey before anything else went wrong with it.

Well, this was only the start of my problems. I was a little disheartened to discover that Netscape 6.0 failed to include an uninstall feature. Fortunately, or so I thought, I have Uninstaller 5.0 from McAfee. It usually does a very good job at dumping the trash. Netscape 6.0 had other ideas however. It seemed to be mocking me at every attempt I made to abandon it. After the uninstall and subsequent reboot, and reloading Netscape 4.72 back onto the system, I thought I had made it. Heh, wrong again! Now my freshly installed version 4.72 refused to work either. Now comes the fun part, are you ready? I used the uninstall feature for 4.72 that should have been included with 6.0. Again, reboot, reinstall? No way, I have seen this happen on way to many occasions with unruly betas. I went through the entire system, found 38 Netscape remnants and proceeded to remove them. Next step? check the Windows registry for any reference to Netscape. To my horror, there were over 248 entries that had not gone bye bye! I won't bore you with the remainder of this tedious proceedure, but, you guessed it, I had to go through each one, one at a time. You see, you can't just dump this stuff off of hand. Some programs need some of these entries.

Now the usual reboot, check the other applications to make certain that I didn't do a boner. Now, reinstall Netscape 4.72, reboot and hooray! I got it back. Of course now I am in the process of re-installing all of my old settings. Yup, I forgot to follow my own rule, you know the one where I advise you to, "Back it up, back it up and back it up"! Sheepish grin.

So, that is where I am right now. If you installed 6.0, I hope you had better luck than I. If you still want a browser that has all the latest bells and whistles, my advise. Swallow your pride and download I.E. 5.01. It ain't perfect, but it is the only game in town. Better hurry though, uncle Bill is going to need some more money soon to cover all of the lawsuits he has let himself in for by bucking the DOJ. But that is another story.

Okay so what was your experience with Netscape Pre Release 1? Drop me a line by clicking here and share your experience with the online community. Your experience, good or bad, we need an objective report. Lets see if the product can cut the mustard in the real world, rather then in perfect techie lab conditions with masters of Geekology!

Netscape 6.0, the final release is out.......you'll be sorry! But, if you just gotta try it and are having problems, see what problems and solutions that some of our readers have put to Cyber-paper at:

Bo's Netscape 6.0 problems and solutions page
Trust me~You are not alone~

Best Advise? Skip 6.0 and 6.01! Wait for 6.5

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