Miscellaneous Ramblings

Is Netscape 7 the Best Classic Mac OS Browser? - Tip Jar

Charles Moore - 2006.06.12, corrected

One of the most compelling reasons to upgrade to OS X - even if you're still satisfied with or prefer using the Classic Mac OS - is browsers. Classic has been pretty much abandoned by browser developers, with the lone Classic browser still updated being the iCab 3 beta, which is a very decent browser, but which still lacks some amenities of the latest OS X browsers like FireFox, Opera, and Safari, or indeed iCab for OS X.

I hate resorting to Internet Explorer. Another Classic candidate is Mozilla 1.3 (and its WaMCom derivative), but I've found them a bit rough around the edges and have tended to use iCab whenever it was capable of doing what I needed, which is most of the time. (Download WaMCom here.)

However, last week I noticed an old copy of Netscape version 7.0 from 2002 on my hard drive and started it up to refresh my memory. I was delighted to (re)discover that this version of Netscape is still a pretty decent browser, quite a smooth performer, and in fact quite similar in look and operation to SeaMonkey, which has been my main workaday browser in OS X lately.

I decided to use Netscape 7 for a few days, both in Classic and in Classic mode from OS X, and I've also found that it's stable and speedy - although not as fast as SeaMonkey, Firefox, and other state-of-the-art OS X browsers. Nevertheless, it acquits itself very decently and has so far supported all Web pages and functions I've thrown at it.

Netscape 7.0.2 was the last Netscape browser version that supported Classic, and it had a few minor tweaks (see Appendix below) distinguishing it from version 7.0.1. These browsers are linear descendants of old Netscape Communicator - king of the Web browsers before upstart Internet Explorer usurped the throne in the late 90s.

Netscape 7

These are suite browsers and include an email client/newsreader, an IRC chat client, and Web authoring modules along with the browser. They also support modern browser features like tabbed browsing, are freeware, and are available for download from Netscape's legacy browser site.

Code from the Mozilla project formed the core of Netscape 7. Netscape contributed the work product of a set of employees to the Mozilla project. That was combined with the contributions of a host of other contributors to create the Mozilla code base.

Netscape then took most (but not all) of the open source Mozilla code base and used it to create Netscape, adding a set of features to the Mozilla core, such as the AOL Instant Messenger, a Java virtual machine, and a set of plug-ins; Netscape logos and other branding items, and may set default URLs, etc.

Netscape 7.0 was pitched as a customization of the Mozilla code base intended for a consumer audience, while Mozilla of that era was described by its developers diplomatically as being targeted at the developer community.

preferences

The emphasis for Mozilla, both in terms of functionality and of user interface, was to allow Netscape to create a reliable replacement for the Netscape Communicator 4.x series. However, there were profound changes under the hood that specifically related to the future evolution of the user experience and set Mozilla up for an exciting and rapidly evolving future - this includes the Firefox, SeaMonkey, Camino, and Mozilla 1.7 browsers as well as a number of other derivatives, as well as the Thunderbird email client that was developed out of the old Netscape Communicator Mail module.

In terms of appearance and stability, Netscape comes with a few more bells and whistles than Classic Mozilla, and I prefer the aesthetics of the pretty Netscape animated logo to Mozilla's big lizard. Both browsers include a Messenger email client module and a Composer HTML authoring module.

If you want to keep using the Classic Mac OS but want to avoid using Internet Explorer, Netscape 7.x is well worth checking out.

System Requirements

For more information and to download a copy of Netscape 7.0.2, visit:

Appendix

Netscape 7.x is based on the Gecko open source engine and fine-tune of Netscape 6. Netscape 7.0 is based on Mozilla 1.0.1 (7.0.1 is based on Mozilla 1.0.2).

Features

Support P3P (Privacy Preference Project), New corporate features in Netscape Mail including S/MIME, Shared folders for IMAP, Secure LDAP, and Offline LDAP.

What's New In Netscape 7.02

New In Netscape 7.01

New In Netscape 7.0

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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