2000: It’s always good to have the latest released version of programs. What’s even better is getting the latest pre-release version of programs. Pre-released versions of programs are called beta or alpha software. I am testing out three pre-release programs at present.
These three programs – AIM 4.0, Netscape 6.0, and Macster Preview 4 – are all programs that are not available in stores; however, they are the latest and greatest versions of well-known software. You can get them at their developer’s websites.
AIM, better known as AOL Instant Messenger, is the latest version of AOL’s real-time messaging system. The newest version of this program adds a new, very innovative feature: voice chat. With this feature, you can use your computer just like a phone and communicate with anyone else using AIM 4.0 or higher (people using Windows AIM 3.5 or greater can also use this feature).
I tried out this feature with one of my friends, and, unfortunately, it is of less than satisfactory quality. He said he could hear me, however, I could barely make out one word he was saying. Hopefully, AOL’s programmers will fix this problem before a final version is released.
Update: AIM service was discontinued on December 15, 2017.
Netscape Navigator 6.0
AIM’s few flaws seem like nothing compared to the bugs and flaws inside Netscape’s latest pre-release program. Netscape Navigator 6.0 has potential, but it has a very long way to go. Upon starting this program, 6 out of 10 times I was presented with a crash. However, on the four times that it did actually work, I was treated to a nice program – for a while.
Netscape 6.0 adds many nice features, one of which is a nice interface enhancement. Now, this new program looks similar to many other programs, wrapped in Bondi-blue and translucent colors. But after seeing this new interface for a while, Netscape decided it didn’t like it, so out of nowhere, the program turned into red and blue. I don’t know if others experience this problem, but it, among others, is one Netscape should definitely check before releasing this program to the public.
Update: Netscape Navigator was discontinued after the release of version 220.127.116.11 in February 2008. It has been replaced by SeaMonkey, part of the Mozilla project.
Macster PR 4
The last pre-release program I’m using regularly right now is Macster PR 4. This program is used to download MP3 music files from the net. This Napster clone is able to surpass its competitors in both features and stability. Also, this program adds a nice speed boost, which definitely helps when downloading 5 MB files with a 56k modem.
Of all of the programs available right now for downloading MP3s, Macster PR 4 is definitely the best. It can download any type of MP3, like many others, but it is much faster than its competitors and even faster than its Windows counterpart, Napster.
Update: Macster was gobbled up by Napster and became Napster for Macintosh in October 2000.
Beta testing software isn’t for everyone. Many times the latest pre-release program may pretty much mess up your computer, so whenever you’re trying out a pre-release program, always be careful and be sure to keep a backup of your vital data.
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