Netscape 8 Released Today

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Netscape logoI’ve been using the Netscape 8.0 Beta off and on for a couple of months now. I wasn’t especially thrilled with it, since I’ve been using Firefox as my browser of choice. Having said that, Netscape may be the right browser for you. I’ll explain why below:

Page Rendering

The most important feature of 8.0 is that you can toggle rendering engines on the fly. If a page doesn’t display properly (or at all) using the Firefox engine, you can switch it to the IE rendering engine. In some cases, the browser will do this for you automatically (i.e. while browsing https:// pages for instance).

Most people aren’t going to worry about this feature. Designers however may be able to use Netscape as a development tool to preview their work using the two primary rendering engines without the need for two different applications open.

I realize that this does little to convince you to download it, but you might find it useful if you’re tired of switching back and forth between applications.

MultiBar

The new Netscape sports a new interface design with tabbed browsing and something they’re calling the “MultiBar“. The Multibar has multiple “trays” of information that you can have displayed in the MultiBar where stuff like the weather, email status, news, and more can be configured to be displayed in this area. Clicking on items in the MultiBar can generate Live Content. Not groundbreaking… but not a terrible idea for some users.

Sidebar

Like 7.0, this also features the Sidebar where you’ve got built-integration of AOL Instant Messenger, Weather, etc. I hide these by default when using the app. I use the standalone version of AIM for instant messaging and don’t like having to rely on keeping a browser window open in order for my buddy list to persist. Nor do I like IMing within Netscape. The interface just doesn’t work for it.

Other Stuff

8.0 also has built-in Search, skins, a “Security Center”, and more…

Overall Impression

All in all, it’s not a bad browser. It’s a nice upgrade from Netscape 7.0, but probably won’t win many IE or Firefox converts. The downside? It’s PC only. (Sorry, Mac people.) It’s bloatware (it has lots of extra features that some might enjoy, but aren’t really necessary in a web browser.)