Netscape 4.79
November 8, 2001 4:14 AM   Subscribe

Netscape 4.79 coming soon. Why do they insist on keeping that build alive? Netscape 6.x is finally at a point when it's almost as good as IE 6.0/IE 5 Mac, if not better, so another 4.x release is just very odd. [Netscape 4.79 FTP folder]
posted by riffola (49 comments total)
I'd still use Netscape 4 if they updated that braindead CSS engine.
posted by dlewis at 4:26 AM on November 8, 2001

I swore off Netscrape forever after it caused my NT box at work to bluescreen every ten minutes or so. Add that to the fact that 1) the HTML rendering is just plain bad, 2) the java implementation is way behind the times, and 3) it's slow as molasses. Almost any modern alternative -- Mozilla, Galeon, Konqueror, or Opera -- is a better alternative than Netscrape.
posted by mrmanley at 4:37 AM on November 8, 2001

Netscape 6.x is finally at a point when it's almost as good as IE 6.0/IE 5 Mac, if not better,

It is? Really? I last used Netscape about three years ago. It was slow and buggy then. Has it really gotten to the point where it can once again compete with the likes of IE? When did this happen?
posted by lucien at 4:56 AM on November 8, 2001

NS 6.2 is an extremely competent browser, and I actually (gasp!) enjoy using it alongside IE 5.1. I agree with riffola on this one.

Adding on another point release is just silly now. If NS is serious about web standards, and standing behind its latest product, it'll dump the 4.7x series like a bad habit.
posted by hijinx at 4:59 AM on November 8, 2001

Netscape 6.x is finally at a point when it's almost as good as IE 6.0/IE 5 Mac, if not better

Hmm ... I used 6.0 and 6.1 and swore vehemently after about an hour's experience with each that I would never use Netscape again. The previous two versions installed bloatware, took hours to load the program into memory, required that I sign up for some Netcenter crap, failed to render the standards-compliant pages which I tested them on correctly, and didn't offer an uninstall feature.

So what's changed? Am I going to download it and spend three days swearing about it again?

Going back on topic, I can't understand why they aren't sinking all their efforts into 6.x to make it acceptable ... 4.x is fucked, unless they do fix the CSS engine. Anyway I've seen Opera now.
posted by walrus at 5:04 AM on November 8, 2001

Netscape? What's that? I remember a product called Navigator which used to be small and efficient and was way better than Microsoft's Explorer. Then at some point around '96 or '97 they started tacking on all this extra swag. The product known as Navigator was discarded - now they were out with something called Communicator. Hello? Netscape sunk their own ship when they went from making a fast and friendly browser to trying to be my end all be all communications center (ala MS). If they had stuck to just an honest to god browser they may still be a head - the fact is though that Internet Exploer caught up to and surpassed Navigator around version 3 or so... I made the switch and have never looked back since. Netscape is the victim of too many suits and ties trying to chisel a buck out of the market - too many clueless focus groups and meetings doomed what was once an excellent, honest product. :-(
posted by wfrgms at 5:20 AM on November 8, 2001

Ahhh, yet another chance to bitch about Netscape. Gee, I can hardly wait.
posted by yarf at 5:36 AM on November 8, 2001

I've actually started to think a little better of Mozilla recently, having been forced to use it in some NT4 labs where the system directories are locked down, and the installed IE is 5.0, sans service packs. (read: freezes every five minutes)
Compared to *that*, Mozilla is an absolute joy, and if the 0.9.4/NS 6.2 build had been out a year (or better, two years) ago, it might have more of a chance on Windows. I doubt it stacks up so well against IE6, though.
posted by darukaru at 5:43 AM on November 8, 2001

Mozilla is better than Netscape 6 in that it doesn't push you to sign up for AOL Instant Messenger and Netscape web mail. For nightly builds for Windows, if you go to MozillaZine's build comments and click through to "Today's build directory" for win32 and get the .zip file, there's not even an installer: just unzip and run. Avoid them on thumbs-down days and everything's peachy.

On my slow computer I use K-Meleon, a basic browser with Gecko (Mozilla's rendering engine) and a simple IE-like interface. It's four megs to Mozilla's ten, and runs like it.
posted by markpasc at 5:49 AM on November 8, 2001

with 6.2 i think they're getting very close to a great browser, it runs (and loads, with quicklaunch turned on) fast, is very stable and does a fine job of standards compliance

the netscape 6.x series is based on open source code from the mozilla project, so if you prefer your browser sans bloatware (and aren't afraid of a little developer style tinkering) - then its worth checking out a recent build

mozilla also supports a slick tabbed interface, which imho is a potential ie killing feature, - if only it hadn't taken so long to get this far...

the 4.x css engine is irreparable, due to the minging hack it was based on (netscape reverse mapped css support onto an engine designed to support their own competing style sheet implementation - jsss)

from my experience the 4.x series remains popular due to its low system requirements and perceived speed - unfortunately there aren't enough major standards compliant sites out there to force a change, and corporates are wary of ditching ns 4.x support because it remains in use, a real catch 22...
posted by sawks at 6:01 AM on November 8, 2001

Ooh yeah ... that multi-tabbing thing looks great. My usual rest state is to have about six browser windows open ... if I'm actually looking for something it can get nasty. I might give it a go, thanks sawks.
posted by walrus at 6:08 AM on November 8, 2001

"Another chance to bitch about Netscape." Sure, why not? Last I checked (NS 6.0 and 6.1) it was still a piece of junk--6.1 was marginally better than 6.0, but I'm with Walrus. I don't care to go through all that again, whether it's 6.2 or 4.79.
posted by StOne at 6:21 AM on November 8, 2001

Why do they insist on keeping that build alive?

That's a super simple question. Most people who used Netscape 4.x did not like version 6 and switched back. Version 6 is bloated, loading slowly on many systems, and is overpacked with AOL crap.
posted by fleener at 6:28 AM on November 8, 2001

I guess I've sold my soul to the devil, but I fail to see any compelling reason to even give Netscape another chance so long as they merely try to play catch-up with IE. If they come out with something truly innovative, uniquely useful, standards-compliant, stable, and sexy, we'll talk.
posted by rushmc at 6:31 AM on November 8, 2001

And... most people don't know anything about standards compliance (why the hell should they?). They just like the Netscape 4 interface and that it loads quickly on their slow systems. I'll bet MeFi'ers typically have much nicer systems and are have a much more advanced understanding of their OS than the average user. The average user doesn't know how to upgrade their browser.

Everyone who was on v4.7 that I upgraded to v6 requested (not too politely) to be put back on v4.7.
posted by fleener at 6:33 AM on November 8, 2001

Ooh yeah ... that multi-tabbing thing looks great

Oh come on, it's a triumph of function over style. I have to say that tabbed browsers are the way of the future. Opera's CTRL-SHIFT-Click open-a-window-in-the-background feature is bloody perfect for Metafilter.

Anyways, what we should really be grateful for is finally having a rather impressive selection of high-quality rendering engines (IE, Gecko, Opera, KHTML) all competing over the W3C standards.
posted by dlewis at 6:35 AM on November 8, 2001

I don't get why all you people are bitching about ns6. Why use it at all when you can just get mozilla?
posted by delmoi at 6:55 AM on November 8, 2001

For OS X, IE is not acceptable. Netscape 6.2 is on about the same level - it freezes less, but is slower and the html is uglier. Opera renders the HTML best, but is not entirely standards compliant ( doesn't render correctly in it). I love iCab, but it's also not finished. iCab and IE stay in my dock.
posted by djacobs at 6:56 AM on November 8, 2001

To be fair, randomWalks is not entirely standards compliant either, but the code should render in a compliant browser. Netscape 4 should be shot like a lame horse. Web developers should walk away and not look back.
posted by sudama at 7:01 AM on November 8, 2001

I still think someone needs to write a worm/virus that will go through someone's system and delete any version of Netscape 4.x and replace it with Mozilla.
posted by manero at 7:14 AM on November 8, 2001

When AOL bought Netscape this was last edition of the browser before becoming truely bloatware. Between 4.5 and 4.7 was also when Netscape introduced open source. The outcome was pretty much the same as what happened to ICQ in which AOL had an "heavy" version of their alternatives (IE and AIM).
posted by samsara at 7:18 AM on November 8, 2001

djacobs -
"For OS X, IE is not acceptable"

runs great for me (albiet a smidgen slower than the classic version)

are you running os 10.1 (and thus ie 5.1.3) ?
posted by sawks at 7:24 AM on November 8, 2001

I disagree ajacobs - on OS X, I find IE to be the only browser that's useable on a daily basis. iCab and Omniweb are not really anything more than toys, and Opera isn't much better. ICab in particular is a disappointment - we've been waiting over a year and they still don't support Javascript and CSS properly.

Netscape 6.2 is pretty good, but there are several things that will prevent me from using it regularly - mostly, it's a bit bloated with the mail and IM stuff built in. But it is the only one that will work with my bank, so I'll fire it up once a week at least.
posted by mikel at 7:29 AM on November 8, 2001

I am using OS X.1 (how the fuck do you write that properly?), and IE STILL freezes for me, forcing a force quit, ever other day. _Especially_ on Java pages that ask for keyboard input. Also, the B.I.O.S. page (Javascript 1.2) ( crashes in IE when I learn a certain number of psych out attacks.
posted by djacobs at 7:34 AM on November 8, 2001 [1 favorite]

I'm looking forward to using OmniWeb 4.1 exclusively -- if it supports CSS1 properly. I love that omniweb windows know how large an image is, and respect the dock. I also like that you can force new windows to open in the background -- though in IE you can do that with an apple-shift-click which is almost as good.
posted by sudama at 7:41 AM on November 8, 2001

dlewis: have you tried using the mouse gestures in opera? right-click, swipe mouse down opens a link in a new window and right-click mouse left goes back. i absolutely love them.

the only problem is, now i found myself trying to interact with other programs in the same way.
posted by lescour at 7:49 AM on November 8, 2001

I have to agree with those who have said that their experiences with NS 6.0 and 6.1 has been a turn off to ever giving the browser another shot. As a web developer, I will download it and run tests, as I currently do with 6.1, but I doubt I will spend much time with it.

I will take markpasc's advice, though, and give k-meleon a try.

What I want to know is if there is not an open-source project that is trying to develop a standards compliant, user friendly, cross platform and quick browser. Mozilla, you say? I mean an open source project that is not joined at the hip to a major corporations whose primary interest is not in providing a decent browser.

Does anyone know of such a project? Would such a project succeed without the support of a major corporation?
posted by jeffvc at 7:51 AM on November 8, 2001

Wow. . .I really don't know much about this but have always used versions of Netscape in that I can't stand to support Microsoft any more than I have to.

After reading some of the above comments, I just downloaded Mozilla and it seems a lot faster than 6.1.

I've heard around the office that for awhile, MS was tweaking their various OS's so that Netscape would crash more often. I have no idea whether that's true or even possible but hey thanks for the Mozilla tip.
posted by Danf at 7:55 AM on November 8, 2001

dlewis: have you tried using the mouse gestures in opera?

Yes! About time someone introduced those to a browser. About 3 years ago when I was finishing my degree I wrote a drawing application where all the tools were accessible from gestures (reverse engineered the palm pilot recognition algorithm ... shhhh!). Ever since then I began to wish they would put them in more programs.
posted by dlewis at 8:03 AM on November 8, 2001

lescour: sounds like you should check out sensiva

djacobs: i dont get the freezing (i have a fresh install of 10.1 on a new ibook) but sorry, i totally forgot about java, it does indeed suck (i must check icab out again, coz no other browsers seem to do java well on the mac)

hopefully it gets better real soon - java runs great on its own in 10 and i had my fingers crossed that the multitasking would make a difference with the slow plugin situation (one of the many reasons why the mac flash plugin is slow) that affects os 9.x

speaking of java, has everyone seen rhinocam ?!
posted by sawks at 8:11 AM on November 8, 2001

At home, where I'm running Linux and IE isn't an option, I've been using Mozilla, and every time I upgrade I find less and less to complain about. It still feels a little bit slower than IE, but not at all severely. The rendering's just as good, and I prefer Mozilla's privacy and security tools to those of IE.

I can't agree that it doesn't do anything innovative. Cookie management, detailed control over who's allowed to do things like JavaScript popup, a powerful sidebar, tabbed browsing (thanks, sawks, I hadn't known about that)... themes, if you like that sort of thing. There's not a whole lot of innovative stuff to do with a browser at this point, but Mozilla certainly does its share.

As for Netscape, though... is there really ever any reason to use it rather than Mozilla? Isn't it usually just a slightly older Mozilla release with a bunch of AOL shit added to it? Netscape 6.0 was a bad joke, taken from a severely beta version of Mozilla that was already obsolete. I gather 6.1 and 6.2 descend from some of the better releases, but why not just go straight to Mozilla?
posted by moss at 8:25 AM on November 8, 2001

"Isn't it usually just a slightly older Mozilla release with a bunch of AOL shit added to it?"

correct - but mozilla is not really intended as a consumer browser, they dont offer support etc...
but yeah, if you're a 'power user' then theres no reason not to use it, they appreciate the testing and bug reporting too

as i understand it - the plan is to get mozilla 1.0 out asap, meaning they have a stable complete browser codebase that can then be picked up by third parties to extend
posted by sawks at 8:38 AM on November 8, 2001

I'm starting to really warm to Mozilla - if it didn't use so many files it would be my browser of choice (any mac users found a way around the problem of too many files open?).
posted by twistedonion at 9:02 AM on November 8, 2001

dlewis: Oh come on, it's a triumph of function over style

Mea culpa ... forgot to put the "to use" on the end of my sentence. Of course it's not particularly pretty ...
posted by walrus at 9:46 AM on November 8, 2001

(any mac users found a way around the problem of too many files open?)

Upgrade to Mac OS 9. The limit is increased to ~8000 under 9 IIRC.
posted by boaz at 9:52 AM on November 8, 2001

Oh a whim, I went to Browserwatch, a site I used to check every day during the good old bad old days of the browser wars... and it's still there!* Sweet nostalgia...

*and it's (apparently) still 1998
posted by rodii at 10:36 AM on November 8, 2001

Netscape 4.79 coming soon. Why do they insist on keeping that build alive?

Last time I checked, Netscape 4.x was used by about 10-15% of web users. Netscape 6.x's market share is, by comparison, in the low single digits. Until Netscape 6 has supplanted Netscape 4 as the public's Netscape browser of choice, it would be foolish of AOL to abandon their more popular product, regardless of its obvious shortcomings.
posted by ljromanoff at 11:53 AM on November 8, 2001

Btw I personally use IE 6, and I love it despite everything, but when I installed Netscape 6.2, I noticed that the browser was finally usable (for regular use) If you use quicklaunch it should load up as fast as IE does, of course I don't use it that way. Apart from the loading time in the non-quicklaunch mode it appeared to be on par with IE 6 as far as the page rendering speed is concerned.
posted by riffola at 12:40 PM on November 8, 2001

I've finally migrated over to Mozilla (now 0.9.5) as my browser of choice (I'm using it right now). IE just drives me crazy with its resource leaks and oops-I-crashed-guess-I'll-take-down-the-OS-for-good-measure hijinks. Mozilla (at 0.9.5) isn't perfect, but I like it a lot. The recent builds have removed a lot of the beta-testing error-trapping code that was slowing it down. They've given it a "-turbo" feature that lets most of it stay in memory, leading to quick startups. The tabbed interface wasn't something I thought I'd like -- Opera's never really appealed to me -- but it's definitely a lot faster, so I'm using it more and more. Recently I've had some problems with cookies, and (for example) metatalk comment previews don't work, but those are minor problems I can live with.

I guess people like lucien really were turned off, if they won't try a new version even years later. lucien, Netscape 6 is not a marginally improved Netscape 4. They began writing Netscape 5, then they realized they needed to completely redo the rendering engine, so they scrapped a mostly-complete browser, and begain Mozilla: a new, 100% standards-compliant, rebuilt-from-the-ground-up browser, with some amazing technology built in. The XUL engine pre-dates Microsoft's .NET initiative, for instance, and provides many of the same basic functionality geared toward running local browser-based software. There are Mozilla-based projects centered around P2P and instant messaging. It's not just a browser; it's a complete internet programming environment.

rushmc, what the hell do you mean by "standards compliant"? If you don't count made-in-Redmond standards, Mozilla beats IE hands down in that game.

jeffvc: I suspect the creation of a complete browser and anciallary tool environment is beyond the capability of anyone without the support of a major corporation. That said, Mozilla is definitely open source. Why would anyone need to start their own project? Just dress up Mozilla's core your own way. That's the whole point of the project, after all; and there are already several examples of OSS projects who've done just that. Unless you're looking for ne'er-touched-by-the-corporate-hand purity, that is, but then your objections are religious rather than practical.
posted by dhartung at 3:36 PM on November 8, 2001

Again, I cry out to the MEfi universe: is there a non-interim version of Opera for Mac? e-mail me, if you know....
posted by ParisParamus at 3:48 PM on November 8, 2001

have you tried using the mouse gestures in opera?

even faster: tapping right click and then immediately left click (a lot easier than it sounds), it takes you back to the last page. doing the opposite sequence, takes you forward. genius. i don't know any other browser that is engaging in such genius. when you right click and hold, move right, move left, then move right, and let go, the window closes. it sounds somewhat complicated, but i usually can do the motion in about half a second.

and if you put a flower pot on your head, turn three circles, and tap your elbow, you'll be able to fullscreen the page you're looking at.. just kidding about that one.
posted by lotsofno at 3:51 PM on November 8, 2001

rushmc, what the hell do you mean by "standards compliant"? If you don't count made-in-Redmond standards, Mozilla beats IE hands down in that game.

nope in one specific. IE 5/Mac, which was done by a whole other team (was thereafter disbanded, twas rumored), is generally recognized as the most standard-compliant version of the Big Two, though I can't speak for/against Mozilla (wouldn't run pre-OS 9, IMO an error).
posted by retrofut at 5:09 PM on November 8, 2001

The Mac Business Unit (the guys responsible for Mac IE, Outlook Express, and Office, but not, oddly, the full Outlook) is alive and well and working on Office X, I believe.
posted by darukaru at 7:09 PM on November 8, 2001

NS4.7 is stable and fast for me. I don't like IE, and if the only price I have to pay is to read secret messages from designers explaining their pages won't look right I am happy to pay it. Viva la resistance!
posted by thirteen at 7:28 PM on November 8, 2001

Browserwatch, a site I used to check every day during the good old bad old days of the browser wars

You too, huh?
posted by rushmc at 10:33 PM on November 8, 2001

rushmc, what the hell do you mean by "standards compliant"? If you don't count made-in-Redmond standards, Mozilla beats IE hands down in that game.

Vaporware, as far as I'm concerned, sorry. I may look at it if it's ever released, but I doubt it. I got tired of waiting a year ago.
posted by rushmc at 10:34 PM on November 8, 2001

K-Meleon is really freaking fast.

Too bad it doesn't work. It's actually *MORE* broken than Netscape where it comes to supporting little unimportant things nobody ever uses, like HEIGHT. :P

I really wish I could use something other than IE. Unfortunately, everything else just sucks more.
posted by Foosnark at 9:56 AM on November 9, 2001

Blame Microsoft. There haven't been any improvements in word processors since they eliminated WordPerfect, either.
posted by rushmc at 2:35 PM on November 9, 2001

I still use Netscape 4.7*, but primarily because I'm addicted to being able to right-click and send page, a feature no other browser has as far as I know. (If there is any other browser that has this, or lets you customize this let me know. Opera doesn't even have a send page feature, and all the others require you to go to the File menu)

By the way, why aren't browsers more customizable? Most of Microsoft Office lets you screw around with toolbars etc., but IE barely lets you do anything.

Also, I tried K-Meleon, and found that it refused to read certain pages (or certain pages refused to be read by it.) I have no idea why.
posted by gspira at 4:23 PM on November 10, 2001

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