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Browser Wars II: The Saga Continues

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the digging-up-the-wars-of-the-past dept.

The Internet 758

adamsmith_uk writes "For the first time in three years something has happened in browser land. In fact, major events have started happening at a breathtaking pace. Time for a long overview that tells the whole story. "

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browse my FP, beotch (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433799)

thass right, nigga!

Re:browse my FP, beotch (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6434032)

Yoda: "Begun, these browser wars have."

Mace Windu: "Yoda, shut the fuck up.

Yoda: [Growls under breath]

the future is now. (5, Insightful)

sweeney37 (325921) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433802)

The [Mozilla] Project needs to get its act together, though. No more rehearsing for the Navel Gazing Split Personality Idiot Savant role. No more antique cars stuffed with vague X-technologies nobody understands anyway. And no, not even one web standard. The Project should put Mozilla on a strict diet and star it as the Viable Alternative to the Senile Evil Dinosaur Usurper in the epic multimedial co-production "Browser Wars II: The Saga Continues".

If the Project does so, it has a future. If it doesn't, it will sink further into obscurity and silly names.

Apparently this guys has been out of the loop. I agree the silly name changes, and change in directions hurt, (hell it confused me too), but now they are on a strict roadmap. The Firebird browser is on a strict diet, it's slicker, leaner and meaner than anything Microsoft has to offer. Even some of the biggest Windows advocates [] have jumped on the bandwagon.

Hopefully enough eyes will be opened, and will see that the future is Firebird.


Re:the future is now. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433816)

Hopefully enough eyes will be opened, and will see that the future is Firebird.

Who the hell are you anyway? This sounds like something out of Richard II right before he gets sodomized by the Northumbrians.

All I can say is if the eyes "are opened," that I hope they immediately have sharp sticks jabbed into them.

Re:the future is now. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433828)

I've been using Mozilla Firebird v0.6 exclusively since its release, on my work Win2K laptop, my Sun Blade, and my ol' Dell Workstation. It is the shiznit, hands down the fastest, meanest browser out there.

Re:the future is now. (0, Interesting)

aeinome (672135) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433848)

I agree. Mozilla shows great promise, and with a detailed roadmap (which they are following quite well) they will be better than Explorer, and probably soon. Go Mozilla!

Re:the future is now. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433976)

"I agree. Mozilla shows great promise, and with a detailed roadmap (which they are following quite well) they will be better than Explorer, and probably soon. Go Mozilla!"

Uh....I think you misspelled "Me too". -1, AOL User.

Re:the future is now. (1, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433900)

Hopefully enough eyes will be opened, and will see that the future is Firebird.

I'd actually be more comfortable if atleast 3 browsers other than IE had a sizable share. Mozilla currently depends on AOL for funding, and now that MS has settled, AOL might simply drop Mozilla in favor of Netscape. A few articles on these lines also made the rounds.

Opera and Konqueror seem to have a bit of the pie, and that's good news as well. The best thing to happen to browsers would be a few browsers that implement the W3 specs fully, and force the rest to do likewise.

Next to RS232, HTTP is the most abused standard protocol in computing. Time to rein in the violators.

Re:the future is now. (5, Informative)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433940)

AOL might simply drop Mozilla in favor of Netscape

I hate to break this to you, but Netscape *is* Mozilla, with some branding added to it, and the odd feature to link in with AOL... but most of the development for Netscape is done by the Mozilla team (who incidently, has a sizable proportion of Netscape employees paid to work for them).

Re:the future is now. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433903)

The future is XWEBS [] .

fp! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433806)


fp! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433818)

e dsf sf

What major changes? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433827)

IE is still the dominant browser, because Windows is the dominant desktop platform. People generally don't want to change what comes with their system, especially if it works well enough for them, to say nothing of the confusinig open source strategem of nightly builds, stable releases, unstable releases, etc etc.

Take over the desktop. then worry about a browser.

Re:What major changes? (2, Insightful)

aeinome (672135) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433863)

The problem is, people still might not change. They've worked with Windows for a lot of years- at least three, I'm sure- and so they'll stick with the "tried and true".

Re:What major changes? (5, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433912)

Exactly - that's why, for anything other than IE to succeed, it needs to offer a truly compelling reason to get people to install and use it over IE. No longer does IE have to be the best - it just has to be good enough. Good enough to make users comfortable with what they already have, and good enough to make the creation of a greatly superior product an arduous task.

It's like the author says, however - truly this is a gripe by developers, not users. 9 out of 10 users are quite happy with IE, so much so that if there are any goofy problems with various sites, it's assumed that it's the site's fault, not IE (which, frankly, can often be true).

Re:What major changes? (4, Insightful)

KillerHamster (645942) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433873)

Take over the desktop. then worry about a browser.

But people will be less likely to switch OS's if their favorite applications won't work on anything but Windows. If someone is already used to Mozilla, then switching to Linux will be easier, since the interface and configuration are basically the same, and all the user's bookmarks, preferences, and email can be imported.

Re:What major changes? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433996)

If someone is already used to Mozilla, then switching to Linux will be easier
That is like saying learning your multiplication tables will make learning calculus easier. Technically true, but...

Re:What major changes? (0, Offtopic)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434029)

Someone mod this +1 Insightful!

*wonders why he blew all his mod points yesterday*

Re:What major changes? (4, Insightful)

Kosi (589267) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433881)

Take over the desktop. then worry about a browser.

As we didn't have OS/2, BeOS and some others to teach us that no OS can win without popular applications.

Re:What major changes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433983)

Mod parent up.

Climate of fear (5, Informative)

Epeeist (2682) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433909)

Agreed - at work we recently had a query about spam and popups. Two or three of us suggested using Mozilla or Netscape instead of IE. We pointed out the ability to suppress popups and minimise email spam within the Netscape mailer in addition to the lower chances of viruses.

To put it mildly we were howled down. People wanted to continue with IE and Outlook. They were happy to add absurd bits of additional software to stop duff information getting as far as IE and Outlook, but they weren't prepared to change them.

Re:What major changes? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433913)

Microsoft advances all at the same time: desktop, browser, mailclient, servers, webservices. You can't just concentrate on one and hope to pull people away from Microsoft products. "Yes, it's a nice Desktop, but can I use Outlook and IE?" or "Yes, it's a nice browser, but my OS comes with IE, which starts much faster." or "Yes, that's a nice email client, but it won't talk to my server" and so on...

Re:What major changes? (3, Insightful)

JesterXXV (680142) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433914)

People generally don't want to change what comes with their system
Take over the desktop. then worry about a browser. Are you kidding? Taking over the browser is too confusing, so they should try taking over the entire OS first? Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but if people are scared of new browser, why the hell would they want to change their entire operating system? I say start small - once people see the benefits of open source apps, they might start opening their eyes to bigger things.

Re:What major changes? (5, Insightful)

epiphani (254981) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433950)

This is true. BUT!

When I'm talking to someone about the internet and they mention how annoying popups are, I mention mozilla. I mention the popup killing and the fact that I find it renders things slightly faster than IE. People want it, instantly.

Its not a matter of getting people to change - they will WANT to change if the product is worth it. Its simply a matter of getting the word out there. Build it, and they will come, once you tell them how the hell to get there.

Re:What major changes? (5, Insightful)

WTFmonkey (652603) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433968)

I agree, but this argument won't hold for much longer. Now that kids are growing up with the computers and learning about them in school, we'll soon be reaching a technicalogical (I know, but I like that better than "technological") equiilibrium of sorts. The "new users" will have the know-how ingrained into them and will feel confident enough to say, "Fuck the bloat, I'm installing Mozilla (or Opera, or Lynx, or...)." They'll grow up knowing about computers just like kids in the sixties knew about cars.

Re:What major changes? (4, Interesting)

cr@ckwhore (165454) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433999)

I agree with you ... BUT, they aren't incapable of making the change. They just need a good reason...

I'll say this to start: Firebird .6 seriously kicks ass! Its the browser I've been wanting for a long time. Gecko is good, but the standard Mozilla implemention is bloated and it sucks too much. That's why firebird is nice... light, fast, and only the features I want. Nothing more.

The good reason we can give for the IE tards out there that don't want to switch ... POP-UPS! Christ... all we need is an anchor on CNN (they're AOLTIMEWARNER, RIGHT? They *could* easily push firebird/mozilla) to do a 1 minute piece about how IE sucks and Firebird is better.

The EASILY demonstrated value in Firebird/mozilla is the pop-up blocking feature. I bet that if Joe and Sally Q. Computeruser knew that there's an easier to use web browser that doesn't bombard them with POP-UPS, they'd download and install in an instant.

Installing firebird is a piece of cake by the way... download, click the icon, the browser starts to run. Can't really get much easier than that.

Re:What major changes? (1, Redundant)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434040)

Have you seen the latest Google toolbar for IE? It's extremely light and useful and it blocks popups too. So there's a pretty good, useful popup blocker for IE now...

Of course, I still prefer Mozilla (Galeon, actually), but popup-blocking is no longer a killer feature, IMHO.

Re:What major changes? (1)

AbstracTus (576474) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434046)

I'd like to believe that a good browser is a must in order to be able to take over the desktop.

Browser Wars? Again? (-1, Funny)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433831)

Anyone wants to take a bet? OK, my bet is Mozilla, followed by Galeon, Opera on the third place (very good for a proprietary software), then Pheonix and Lynx. What do you think?

FUCK OFF, EKROUT! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433858)

Re:Browser Wars? Again? (1)

bsharitt (580506) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433973)

Replace Galeon with Konqueror and you've got a winner.

Really guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6434014)

Poster is not actually a woman, despite account name. Just the last in a long list that have found that gender bending equals free karma from the pathetic moderating system.

*BSD is dying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433833)

It is official; Netcraft confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

Excellent article. (3, Insightful)

aeinome (672135) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433834)

I agree with it on all counts. Microsoft is evil, Explorer is old, and we should move away from it. Unfortunately, most people don't care, and most of the other web browsers aren't all that final. Still, the next "Browser Wars" will be very interesting indeed.

Re:Excellent article. (4, Interesting)

WeeLad (588414) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433997)

I tried to get my (casual PC user) roommate to switch to Mozilla, thinking that if he only knew the benefits and became familiar with it, he'd switch.

I installed Mozilla an made it the default browser. I put the icon on the desktop for him, right next to the IE Icon. I even clicked through it once for him and told him it would keep those nasty pop-ups from bugging him (for which he constantly had a new combination of swear words).

Still, every time I see him browsing, it's with IE. Time to give up? Old habits die hard.

Re:Excellent article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6434039)

The solution is simple: Delete IE.

Ok, which alt browser do you prefer? (3, Interesting)

ACK!! (10229) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433836)

Come on, I know that Mozilla and IE and Netscape are the big dogs relatively speaking.

What about Konqueror, Safari for the Macheads, Galeon, Opera or Firebird?

I have always liked Galeon myself. Still Epiphany is supposed to be good and there are a zillion reasons for using an alt browser. What are yours?

Re:Ok, which alt browser do you prefer? (1)

Fizzlewhiff (256410) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433931)

If you read the article you'll see that they did mention Konqueror. Oh wait, this is slashdot. Nevermind, continue your "they left out my browser rant."

Re:Ok, which alt browser do you prefer? (4, Insightful)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433969)

Interesting... you seem to mention the same browser several times:

Come on, I know that Mozilla and IE and Netscape are the big dogs relatively speaking.

So, that would be Mozilla, IE and Mozilla which are big dogs.

What about Konqueror, Safari for the Macheads, Galeon, Opera or Firebird?

And then kHTML, kHTML, Mozilla, Opera, and Mozilla.

I have always liked Galeon myself. Still Epiphany is supposed to be good.

And then the ever pressing decision of Mozilla against... oh. Mozilla. (They even have near identical interfaces, both being GTK2 based.)

Opera: now Mom-tested! (4, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433979)

I've been using Opera [] (in "free with banner-ad" mode) for maybe a couple hundred years now -- don't know how long for real, because I cringe at the thought of using Explorer. I used to have to switch to IE for some work-required sites, but the new version (7.11, aka the "Slurpee" [] version) has whittled my IE requirements down to just one boneheaded site.

But the best test came when my mother sat down to do a job search using IE. She was immediately assailed by popups, so I helpfully pointed out that you don't get popups with Opera unless you want them. I showed her where to click... and she's hooked. Score one more for the Norwegians!

On the other hand, my wife and 12-year-old daughter don't like Opera. In both cases, I think it's because Opera doesn't have enough security holes, and it interferes with their game downloads. I shudder to think what I might find if I were to install ZoneAlarm...

Re:Ok, which alt browser do you prefer? (1)

Chalst (57653) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433998)

I use Mozilla and konqueror mainly, but I also use dillo [] when I just quickly want to look at a non feature heavy web document. It's limited, but its damn fast..

Re:Ok, which alt browser do you prefer? (1)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434010)

I think he means Joe Sixpack. One of the sad realities is that most end users just use whatever is plopped in front of them. Personally, I like Mozilla and Konq although I used Opera briefly in the pre-1.0 days. I like Konq because it's a piece of cake to change the browser ID for those annoying browser checks and it handles a lot of IE only pages very well. For sheer speed and ease of use, Mozilla is where it's at as of 1.4. I do use the Mozilla mail client as my primary mail client so my opinion is a little skewed.

Web site stats (5, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433837)

Funnily enough I was just checking the stats for a client web site and for the first time both Mozilla (about 5%) and Linux (about 2%) got into my report to the client. The web site is for engineers and my prediction is that engineers are going to be the first significant user of linux on the desktop over the next couple of years.

Wonder why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433884)

Engineers = geeks with a job. Wonder why they're using Linux. :-)

Re:Web site stats (1)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433902)

what sort of website does your client run? slashdot will get more linux/moz hits than

ambivalent (1)

Boromir son of Faram (645464) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433839)

On the one hand, I'm happy that my browser of choice is the best. On the other hand, I'm sad there's nothing better out there. :(

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433844)

The saga continues YOU.

I don't like this article (4, Insightful)

cruppel (603595) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433851)

this is propaganda

Come on. He even admits it. I can think of a couple ways of writing this article, transmitting the same information, and not come off as a bigot at the same time. It's rather interesting to read, but he is speaking for the browsers more than he needs to, let them speak for themselves!

He's also obsessed with CSS (but we won't talk about standards in this article, no not any), like that's the only point you consider when picking/develpoing for a browser. Sure it's important, I use it a ton don't get me wrong, but it is not the only thing with IE that I have trouble developing for.

I love you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433852)

Here [] is what I found, when I searched for Mozilla.

I hope everyone can enjoy. I thought it was sweet =)

Too bad (4, Informative)

presroi (657709) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433862)

I really miss the "Software war" map which used to be at

The last update has been 2002 and it never got updated since.

OK, I'll bite (1, Troll)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433865)

From the article:

The Mozilla Project is in serious trouble. It has been ready for prime time for over a year now, but except for an increasingly meaningless string of new releases nothing seems to happen.

Nothing seems to happen? Hello, what of all these features:

  • Tabbed browsing
  • Popup blocking
  • XML
  • XUL, the interface skinning defintion language
  • Halved ping times
  • Vastly reduced download size and memory footprint
  • Incredible stability
  • Except for proprietary formats like QT and MSHTTP, total protocol compatibility.

It's really funny that they'd over look this stuff, since they bitch and moan about how bad IE is (and will be for another 6 years). They clearly don't understand the power of Open Source.

What is it with you and ping times? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6433899)

It was a somewhat believable troll when you were talking about .NET, but for browser? You should troll at the HTTP level, not TCP/IP level regarding browsers. :)

Re:OK, I'll bite (4, Insightful)

Brento (26177) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433901)

Nothing seems to happen? Hello, what of all these features:

All of the features you mention were added more than a year ago, if I recall correctly. The comment was pointing out that Mozilla hasn't done anything groundbreaking in the last year or so.

Re:OK, I'll bite (1)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433923)

Thank you. You save me a post. or did you :D

I am tired of suffering this jibbering again and again. "Its too late for mozilla." "Mozilla has its chance." "Mozilla is dead."

Garbage. Its the best browser out as far as I can see right now. The mail and news could use a little spit polish, but the browser itself is rock solid. It could use easier support of flash and java, etc. But I love it. and its not dead. Tabbed browsing should be patented NOW because that spanks IE.

Re:OK, I'll bite (1)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433956)

"Mozilla is dead." Garbage. Its the best browser out as far as I can see right now.

Mozilla could be the best browser in the market and be dead in a short time. Where does it say that the best technology has to surive the vagaries of market forces.

Re:OK, I'll bite (1)

Lord Kholdan (670731) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434028)

It's really funny that they'd over look this stuff, since they bitch and moan about how bad IE is (and will be for another 6 years). They clearly don't understand the power of Open Source.

It's not an open source thing. It's doing stuff thing. Opera and Mozilla are kicking it in the lead, claiming that a > b will lead to a flamewar, but I think almost everyone will agree that they're close.

Do people even know there are IE alternatives? (5, Insightful)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433867)

Unless MS is forced to remove IE from Windows as default IE will remain in the dominant position regardless of which browser has the best features. Having AOL and MSN both using IE must help too. Chances are that casual PC owners who just do a bit of browsing, a bit of emailing and type the occasional letter will have not even considered that anything other than IE exsists. Like the way people look for the "Microsoft Word" link on Linux boxes to type a letter. MS has so ingrained the general user base with their apps and their names that it will be an uphill struggle to get people to even realise there are alternative browsers out there. :(

Paid by the word? (1, Troll)

pubjames (468013) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433868)

Was the guy that wrote that article paid by the word? It sure reads like it. And it claims to tell the whole story, but it didn't. Pile of poo.

Re:Paid by the word? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6434009)

I agree. This is a poorly written article. The attempt at a heroic ballad style lessens the impact. It is hard to take the article seriously, or take him seriously.

Re:Paid by the word? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6434012)

I agree.. that was a hideously long article, and when it comes down to it all he said was mozilla needs to lose some of the bloat, we need to wait 6 years for IE 7, and opera is dead.

IE MAC the best browser for a year (4, Interesting)

fozzy(pro) (267441) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433879)

I agree IE MAC was certainly moree css compliant then the windows version, but only slightly so. IE MAC is slow and slugish on most macs comapred to just about every other browser it also crashes frequently. The macs i use are top end, with lots of ram, lots of hd space and they are constamtly replaced and teh same problems persist with IE MAC. Saffari is not bad, but it's not that hot...i'm not a big mozilla fan, buty the mozilla family is tops in OS X land, it is the fastest most compliant browser i have used on a MAC.

Re:IE MAC the best browser for a year (1)

Lysol (11150) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433911)

Yup. I avoided this one like the plague and stuck to slow Mozilla and later Chimera. I'm happiest with the latter but do give props to Safari.

That said, the speed of said browsers has made a noticable jump on Panther - on the same hardware with no upgrades mind u.

The saddest part (-1, Offtopic)

Spytap (143526) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433894)

The saddest part of all this is that it would make a far more interesting plot for the newest Star Wars than whatever Lucas has planned out...

Old thinking? (5, Interesting)

Lysol (11150) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433896)

Granted, a lot of web developers have had to deal with IE, but it seems to me with the only mention of Moz as being in trouble is, well, kinda stupid. I keep reading Moz keeps getting better and better and sure enough, with each release it does get better and better. And so do the browsers based on Gecko. If anything, Moz has crossed over that hump that IE is hitting now. And let's not forget all the neat stuff coming out in XUL. Sure, it needs to be faster, but the possibilities are interesting. Especially if you don't wanna be M$'s bitch.

Maybe it's because I mostly focus on enterprise apps and not too much on client side stuff, but frankly, this guy downplays standards too much, which to me is bizarre because the whole non-standards thing is how we got into this whole mess of one browser no innovation crap. Yah sure, standards take long and companies innovate faster. But, look who you signed on the dotted line when all you web creators went strictly IE. Yes, the f-ing devil.

I probably live in the dreamy stratosphere demanding on most of my projects that we find ways around IE only stuff and make the application robust, secure, and stable, which to me and end users is far more important than js, layers and whatnot. Sure, I also know there are plenty of people who need jazzy sites and have to deal with these issues but you only have to be burned so many times to realize that you need to pull your hand away from the flame.

I guess though, I just feel like design on Moz based browsers and tweak for the rest. Because in time, these scales are going to tip out of IE's favor. I know, I'm in the minority, but I also want my stuff to work. I sacrafice a little zing for a better development experience. Cuz in the end, the users don't care.

there is hope (3, Interesting)

sootman (158191) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433910)

From the article:
If Explorer 7 will be tied to the new OS, it will take at least another two years (and probably three) before it becomes available.

The famous talk show transcript says: "Further improvements to IE will require enhancements to the underlying OS." I tentatively translate this line as "We cannot improve IE any more" because it fits with an idea I've had in the back of my mind for two years now.

Why is Microsoft unwilling to fix the CSS bugs that everyone's been asking it to fix for ages? I think it's not unwilling but unable to do so. Explorer's code engine cannot be updated any more.
Good, maybe the'll do a ground-up rewrite, falter for a few years, and give someone else a chance to get on top (see this article [] .) Someone standards-compliant and not in bed with every large company on the planet.

Re:there is hope (1)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434035)

Why is Microsoft unwilling to fix the CSS bugs that everyone's been asking it to fix for ages? I think it's not unwilling but unable to do so. Explorer's code engine cannot be updated any more.

Actually, I'd be more inclined to think they don't want to have to take the storm of angry users as their fixing of IE causes half a million or so websites to look screwy.

Remember... most users if they see a problem with a site will blame the designers, not the browser, so the designers code in workarounds for buggy browsers, which then go and fix the bugs, breaking their site again.

It's not how it *should* be (I for one would much rather be able to use standards in my pages, instead of working around IE), but it's the way it is.

Things I would like to see changed in Browsers (0, Troll)

PhysicsExpert (665793) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433925)

Although I'm happy with my current browser (opera) there are many ways in which it could be improved.

1. Improved support for windows. The Linux version of opera is quite stable but the windows version repeatedly crashes, especially when I got to pages that have perl in them.

2. popup supression. Popups have become one of my least favourite things about the internet. If the browser could suppress ANY pages that use java to create popups then the problem could be solved at a stroke.

3. Speed. Opera is far more usable than IE but it is much slower at rendering large pages. This can be speeded up if I remove java but this is more of a hack than a proper solution.

4. improved caching. The browser could cache all links on a page regardless of whether you visit them or not. This would make surfing a lot quicker even when you are using analogue.

So in other words... (3, Informative)

autechre (121980) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434020)

You want to use Mozilla, which has all of these things right now.

#4 is not quite what you propose, because that would be a serious and unnecessary drain on a Web site's bandwidth. A site can specify whether a link is allowed to be pre-cached (not by default), and Mozilla will pre-cache it for you if you've enabled this feature (also not by default).

Re:Things I would like to see changed in Browsers (1)

Christianfreak (100697) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434041)

1. Improved support for windows. The Linux version of opera is quite stable but the windows version repeatedly crashes, especially when I got to pages that have perl in them.

Perl is completely server side, it is never seen or parsed or executed by any browser, it is definitely not what causes your browser to crash. Perl programs (like PHP, or JSP, or ASP) simply create a full page of HTML dynamically and then send it to your browser.

4. improved caching. The browser could cache all links on a page regardless of whether you visit them or not. This would make surfing a lot quicker even when you are using analogue.

I would have a problem with caching all links on a page:
Hypothetical: You have a girlfriend/significant other/wife. (okay so we're really hypothetical now :) )
You surf slashdot where people post porn links, links to Goatse, etc.
Your browser caches that stuff,
GF stumbles across cached files or uses some tool to check if you were surfing porn.
You get in serious trouble even though you weren't actually surfing porn.

The Biggest Point (5, Insightful)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433926)

There is no browser.

I think after all I've seen, that's the biggest point, and the biggest reason why using Windows really stuck in my craw (well, other than crashing, being less efficient than Unix, crashing, not letting me do what I wanted unlike Unix systems, etc).

It was that it usually didn't matter what you did - if Microsoft put it in your face, the people would use it.

People don't start their browser - they start the Internet. They'll tell you so - they click on the icon marked "Internet" and off they go. They don't use a document editor, they use Word, and if they use Wordperfect they'll usually say "Wordperfect", though in the back of their head they'll say "that thing I use for editing typed stuff".

Mac users (and I'm one of them - recent convert, thank you for asking) use Safari because it's there.

My fear for Google is that people will say "I'll just google that", and type in a search string into their little browser bar, and be taken right to MSN search.

Microsoft: Hey, what's the problem with that? We're not a monopoly, after all!

Me: Yes, you are. Just stop pretending otherwise, please. While there are millions who honestly don't give a flying fuck, I do. This is no different than in the old USSR when there were two telivision channels - Channel 1 was propoganda, Channel 2 was a guy telling you "Hey, go back to Channel 2. There's nothing else here."

That's the only reason why I wish OS X would come to the i386 platform.

(I'm going to pause here because I know the screams of people foaming at the mouth. "Apple will never do it! They're addicted to hardware!" "If they did, Microsoft would do to Apple what they did to BeOS and threaten computer manufacturers to never let it on their systems".

I know - it will never happen, and that's why I use the term "wish".)

Or my hopes that as more businesses turn to Linux based solutions for the business and start putting it on the desktops to save themselves hordes of money rather than paying another huge Microsoft Enterprise Licensing fee, that more businesses will start being able to say "Well, the cost of making Microsoft angry is now less than putting Dell Linux on a system - so let's do that." (Of course, that will mean that somebody will have to do for Linux what Apple did for it's BSD based subsystem - oh, and make it easier to play games on Linux than it was trying to get Quake II installed.

I'm going to pause here again for more foaming at the mouth people telling me it was easy to get Quake II running on a Red Hat system if only I remember to compile support for something somewhere. I know, I'm an idiot, I bask in your knowledge and lay be belly and bar it at you to acknowledge your greatness. Feel better? I never got Quake II to really run on Linux, so I gave up and installed it on a Windows machine. Thanks for playing.)

I'm waiting and watching the future, so we'll have to see what it does.

My point? Browsers don't matter. Office suites don't matter. OS doesn't matter. What matters is that the user can sit down and do their shit (whatever particular shit that happens to be), and not think about how they do their shit. Once that happens, businesses can just change out the parts that the users need to get the cheapest/most efficient/most effective shit making stuff.

When that day is truly, completly realized - then it will be Microsoft who is in the shit, because they'll have to truly, honestly compete. Not just put up whatever shit they want and expect me to swallow it.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I could very well be wrong.

Re:The Biggest Point (1)

Nurgled (63197) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434042)

Word does not come with Windows.

Would have had first post.... (1)

Vengie (533896) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433929)

but I'm using [insert slow browser here]. As an Opera/Firebird user, I have to say that Moz [firebird] has gotten a /lot/ faster....but OptiMoz still leaves something to be desired. Opera's gestures are far more responsive. I still find that optimoz "drops" gestures, or by and large, isnt as responsive to them as Opera is. If/when that catches up, I'm going straight for firebird. [And opera will still *own* the embedded market...]

one thing that sucks (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433930)

I work in the mostly-Mac design department of a large (otherwise PC) publishing company. We use a lot of MS authentication on various intranet sites. If IE never improves (safari is way better already) and Safari never gains the ability to authenticate (moz1.4.1/win does it with a common DLL) then we're screwed.

IE 7 comment misses the point (2, Informative)

jason0000042 (656126) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433932)

From the article:
Criticism immediately reached boiling point. Web developers bewailed the fact that end users who want Explorer 7 will have to buy the newest Windows version. In my opinion this critique, though correct in a literal sense, is both dishonest and ineffective.

Everyone seems to forget that end users don't care about Explorer 7, with or without a new OS. End users will upgrade to the new OS, or will not upgrade, for reasons that have nothing to do with browsers.

We web developers project our own desires and anger on the end users. Only we want the new browser. Only we will be forced to buy the newest Windows version to be able to check our sites in Explorer 7. But we don't admit that even to ourselves. That's dishonest.

There's one important point this guy is missing here. Big corporations often provide web applications that are based on the latest IE. To do my job I have to use one particular web app. provided by my firms supplier. It requires IE 6. If I wanted to use IE 5.5, I am SOL. When this supplier starts to require IE 7 we will have to upgrade our Windows.

So by tying IE 7 to the OS Microsoft can just about guarantee corporate acceptance of the upcoming windows. Even now, we can't switch completely to Linux because we would not be able to do business. Sucks if you ask me.

Re:IE 7 comment misses the point (2, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433975)

Your supplier will find that they will have a much more difficult time requiring IE7 if it requires a costly OS upgrade.

Re:IE 7 comment misses the point (2, Interesting)

jason0000042 (656126) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434033)

But they are much bigger than us, and due to the nature of our relationship, it would be more costly for us to switch suppliers (I won't bore you with the detail unless you really want me to). So, while we can put some pressure on them, if we are their only customer doing so we are, as they say, up shit's creek.

Browsers and Good vs. Evil (1)

Christianfreak (100697) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433934)

I didn't think it was possible for an article to get this cliche', when I first read the title I thought it would be great to send it to some of my IE using designer friends, but its so full of light side, dark side, Microsoft is evil propoganda it becomes useless.

Web browser wars are about 1. who can market the best and 2. Standards. Its not a good vs. evil thing. I don't like IE, but I don't think that it is 'evil', just incomplete.

The article talks about how we have to spread the word but tells us we can't argue point number 2, standards compliance. Sure Joe User doesn't care, but a lot of web designers do if you can give them good reasons why standards are a great thing. The article also says that its too hard for the end users to understand there are more choices besides Netscape and IE. Remember its all good vs evil, Netscape vs. Microsoft round #3.

In the end we're left with a ranting, cliche' filled article that basically says, IE sucks, tell everyone to use Netscape. Useless.

What about HTTP servers? (2, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433939)

I don't know the exact figures, but a fairly large number of websites continue to use Microsoft IIS to power their webservers.

As long as the Microsoft IIS server continues to favor IE, (can't find the older /. articles about IIS circumventing the standard HTTP protocol to serve pages faster to IE, and also display crappy pages on Mozilla) rather than serving pages fairly across all browsers, and continues to be as widely as Apache, IE will still remain in the game. Simply because general home users wont understand why some pages crap out with Mozilla/etc (not designed for any browser other than IE or due to discrimination by IIS).

It's a pity Apache doesn't start favoring Mozilla/Opera over IE, but I guess that wouldn't be fair play.

IE will be King...unfortunately (1)

dafz1 (604262) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433947)

As long as Windows is the dominant OS on x86 and the 64-bit variants thereof, IE will be the most used browser because, as a couple people have said, most people either don't care, or don't want to learn anything new. The biggest challenge I face as an IT person is teaching people new software, especially when they don't think there is anything wrong with the old app(which has made migration to OS X difficult in the labs that use Macs). How many people do you know still use Win 98, or even 95, because they are comfortable with it?

Speaking of Macs, I don't think Safari is quite ready to be the end all, be all Mac browser(though it is my primary browser). There are too many ecommerce, and other, sites that, unfortunately, depend on IE's flawed implementations to work correctly. IE will be on my machine, though not in my Dock, for quite some time until Apple gets everything working with these websites.

I thought Opera had the right idea (1)

HidingMyName (669183) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433948)

Although the market is very soft, going for installation on hand held devices (cell phone/PDA) devices is likely to give them a leading share. Since the vendors seemed gun shy of microsoft, I'd give the Opera folks a bigger chance if that market should materialize in a reasonable time frame. The big concern is if Microsoft can just buy their way in, they may squeeze the little guys out.

The review of the review (5, Funny)

revery (456516) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433952)

In the beginning...
In the beginning was the review, and it was OK. It used Titles for Everything, and as such was a Trailblazer in some ways. It quickly became Old and strangely played the role of The Great Distractor.

The Players

This is Part 2

Part the Third

There is a great deal of discussion about browsers. Some of it makes Good Sense, but sadly much of it Does Not. There is a War. That much is certain, but

Who Will Reign Victorious
Will the Aged Dragon obtain the Dentures of Power and regain the Throne of Browser Supremacy or will his son the Flaming Sparrow recently renamed the Songbird of Fire throw down the Gauntlet of "Bring it on"? Only one thing is certain.

The Reviewer is unsure


something evil (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433959)

wanna hear something evil? it's no lie. if IE had tabs i would probably switch back. i'm one of those users in the article who just doesnt care about whats under the hood as long as it works, and i have the fidelity of a ugh.. something... that is low fidelity. i think we read about the browser wars online so often cause the people that know how to publish to the web are the people who care about web browsers, mainly. think of all the other things that the average joe never hears about simply cause it doesnt have a convenient vocal outlet. i bet those tounge depressors at the doctor's office cost 15 times more than they should, but nobody ever hears about the competitor getting trampled cause tounge depressor manufacturers can never get their message out- come on seriously, who would read the side of a tounge depressor? </abstract> Well, think about it anyways. Truth be told I do really care about browser choice availability, but I had to say that as the average person on the street who doesnt work with the stuff. This is obvious enough as my words are encoded in html...

Re:something evil (2, Informative)

Jobby (135237) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434043)

There are browsers which use IE's rendering engine *and* features tabs, popup suppression and ad-blocking:

  • NetCaptor [] is the oldest, but costs $$$.
  • Crazy Browser [] is free, and it's interface is almost a direct copy of NetCaptor but is no longer being actively developed.
  • MyIE2 [] has a stupid name but is free and being actively developed. It also has tons of features including skinning, a plugin architecture and mouse gestures. Watch the spyware during installation though.

As an aside, how do I change the keys for moving through tabs in Mozilla? They are truely awful - the three browsers above use F2 and F3 and Opera uses 1 and 2 (and is easily customisable) which are much, much better.

IE will dominate for a long time to come. (2, Interesting)

MisterP (156738) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433961)

I've been a daily Mozilla user for 2 years now. I love it and in my opinion, it's superior to IE6 in a lot of ways.

As good as Moz is, it won't unseat IE anytime soon. IE could degenerate to a festering piece of donkey dung and it will still remain the most widely used browser.

Have a look at that:

For the majority of those IE6 users, IE is synonymous with "The Internet" Unless there is some radical new browser related technology that MS is unable to embrace and extend befofe the little guy's get their implementation out, IE will be around for a long long time.

ummm (1)

sryx (34524) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433963)

I still think Browser Wars IV, V & VI are MUCH better than Browser Wars I and II. I and II seem to just be about special effects :P

Nothing New (1)

jj00 (599158) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433964)

There is nothing new here. This article just gives me a history lesson on what has occured in the past few years. I feel like I wasted my time reading it. At this pace, I'll never be able to enjoy the History Channel's version!

Moribund code base - the real issue? (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433974)

Isn't the real issue that a given code base became moribund - so full of cruft and workarounds that it just couldn't keep up? Look behind when IE overtook Netscape, and might that be part of what happened? Netscape was old, brittle code, and IE was new, with lots of room to evolve.

Now we appear to be at the next generation of the same effect. IE is no longer new, shiny, and evolvable, but Mozilla, Opera, Safari, et al are.

The interesting question is how fast a codebase becomes moribund. I can believe that closed-source schedule-driven corporate code, where aesthetics are secondary or tertiary (if even that) will become brittle faster. But will how resistant will Open Source code be to that effect? I still hear of periodic 'rewrite from scratch' happening on Open Source code, for the exact same reasons.

I've switched back and forth a few times (5, Interesting)

AssFace (118098) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433978)

When I was in college from 95-99, it was easy for me to be anti-Microsoft. I didn't particularly know much about it, but I knew that my Win95 machine crashed and therefore those MS people must be morons.
I knew that there were a lot of others that hated them, so I just sort of figured it was the cool thing to do, hate those bastards.

Then I started learning more econ and started thinking less as a college student and more rationally in terms of how MS got there, and I stopped hating MS.

That said, I did hate IE. It sucked nuts. Mosaic was total ass, and at the time Netscape was the bees knees.
I continued to use Netscape throughout college and was annoyed whenever I had to use IE.

Then I graduated and began to actually program - my particular projects were nearly all DHTML web applications that were large scale ports of existing legacy apps, moving to the web to allow easier use and upkeep... so they said.
DHTML on Netscape sucked the hugest and hairy nuts, so we told our clients that they would have to use IE (these were private applications, used in house at many large universities, we weren't designing storefronts that needed to be cross-browser).
I hadn't seen IE in a long time and was really enjoying working with it compared to the clunky and awkward Netscape.

As a result, up until about a week ago, I was all for IE. It was fast, worked well with DHTML, and most importantly in the past year or two - it has the Google Toolbar.

I have been trying out Mozilla for the past few years, but haven't been all that impressed by it - in fact I was really put off by it at first.
But I just installed 1.4 last week and was really impressed with it - and once I saw that I could get the same Google Toolbar functionality that I used all the time, I realized that I really had a reason to switch now.

I personally am still sticking with IE at work, b/c I do a lot of IT admin stuff on an MS network, and using IE makes it easier to do some of the MS updates.

At home I will likely make the switch over to Mozilla to keep track of many e-mail accounts, as well as for my personal web surfing.

I'm at the point now where I am starting up my own web venture, so I am actually going to have to test for cross browser look and feel, as well as functionality.
My first test at it showed that Mozilla 1.4 is better at dealing with png graphics than IE 6.something. Mozilla also renders a page faster.

I haven't used Opera in over two years, I suppose I will need to test that as well on the site. I don't have a Mac, so I can't test any of their browsers.
I think those should totally cover my target market (I actually think in terms of the business, it will be nearly 99% IE users).

What does this have to do with anything? Not a whole lot I guess.

The point of the article. (4, Insightful)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433980)

The whole point of this long blabfest is that now is the time for a browser other than IE to emerge. MS has stated no further IE6 development will continue. No new features, no new standards compliance fixes, no nothing. Don't try to convince end-users about Mozilla's standards compliance. they don't care. Give them real reasons to switch, and they will.

From an IE convert (2, Interesting)

eastshores (459180) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433984)

With the arrival of IE 4.0 I became a serious supporter of the MS browser because they seemed to just get things right. The rendering speed was great, and they supported a richer base of standards for web technology particularly CSS. But here it is 2 major versions later and I am an avid supported of Phoenix, which some may understand to be the version re-named to firebird that will replace the older mozilla packages.

I use Phoenix because they care enough to innovate in an area that MS has all but ignored. It is almost unbearable for me to surf without tabbed browsing now, pop up blocking, and enhanced configuration for what attributes of the browser scripts are allowed to modify, as well as their built in download history add up to create a browser that I feel allows me to determine my own destiny while surfing.

Furthermore as a web developer, the community oriented plugins that allow me to dynamically alter the DOM to enhance things like page layout, validation tests, etc. add fuel to the fire.

I hope that MS will stop working so hard at getting media player integrated into the browser and go back and add the features like tabbed browsing, enhanced privacy, etc. But for now, the best browser out there IMO is Phoenix.

Browers are indicative of the computer industry (2, Interesting)

gristlebud (638970) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433987)

The fact that Microsoft is not planning to update IE 6, and to not provide any more stand-alone installations is probably not because of any sinister motives on Microsoft's part, but rather because they feel that the code is mature enough to not require periodic revisions to add new features with dubious value. If this is the case, it's addressing one of /.'s favorite MS-bashing topics (feature creep.)

I mean, does anyone really need a new version of a .pdf viewer, or notepad, or any other user-level application that has reached a stable, relatively bug free condition that effectively does it's job?

In fact, this ties nicely with Microsoft's Liscensing V. 6 program, where they have a nice, stable revenue stream while not actually requiring any actual programming (I'll refrain from using the term 'innovation') on thier part.

This does also raise an interesting paradigm shift for the Gnu/Linux community. In essence, the programmers, in creating a sable, user friendly computing environment should be working themselves out of a job, since once they're done, there should be little to do, but periodic refinements (we may already be there in certain places.) Those programmers can then go out and focus on really improving (and innovating) the way we interact with our computers.

strategical? (1)

etigidy (663402) | more than 11 years ago | (#6433990)

Was anyone else annoyed by the repeated use of the word "strategical"? I don't think we should be looking to incorporate Bush's mispronounciations into our vocabulary.

V for ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6434004)

doesn't this spell V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. for anyone who has had an interest in Netscape or Linux or just in f**cking MICROSOFT?
They went too far. Until Netscape it looked like they were going to be able to take control of ALL software on ALL home computers forever and ever amen.
Then with the 'browser wars' they had to build Explorer into reserved OS memory space etc. to keep looking competitive, and so on.
However, the "free" / "open source" / "whatever isn't microsoft" model prevailed and Bingo! not only is there no motivation for non-Windows users to go with substandard MS browsers, it isn't even worth it to Steve Ballmer to pretend there is.

Confused about MS browser strategy. (1)

Maul (83993) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434005)

I'm a bit confused as to what MS is trying to do by forcing IE7 to be confined to the next version of Windows.

The first thing I could think of is that Microsoft is trying to boost adoption of the newer version of the OS by limiting the browser to that OS, and then trying to push IE7-specific features in the web development community. Users would then need to buy the newest version of Windows to get the "full web experience."

However, this whole idea could easily backfire. It might be an incentive for people to switch away from IE to something else, especially if another browser manages to copy the IE7-like features, making it available to everyone.

Is it really true that IE needs to be completely rewritten, and said rewrite is only possible on a new version of Windows?

ie wouldnt be bad (1)

paradesign (561561) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434006)

if it had tabs and popup blocking. but MS care about the user, hah.

i wish apple would port safari for win, now THAT would be something.

According to the article... (1)

acoustix (123925) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434016)

...netscape versions 6 & 7 don't exist. The author of the article was too busy bashing Netscape 4.x that there was no mention of Netscape's new browsers.

This guy needs to do more reasearch. Maybe if he knew what he was talking about he'd know that feature for feature Netscape 7.1 beats the crap out of Explorer 6.1

gay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6434017)

this article isn't worth the bits or bandwidth it used to spread throughout the masses

The author reminded me of Jon Katz (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6434022)

I confess I didn't finish it, but after I got the part about web standards being complicated I had to quit.
Firebird rocks the hell out of IE any dya.

The long-unanswered question (5, Interesting)

beaverfever (584714) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434027)

This whole browser thing has been going on for so many years, and yet I don't think the question has ever been answered; if a company/group wins the browser wars, what does it get them? Microsoft, Apple, etc. pour how much money into development of software they give away - where's the reward/compensation for the investment?

The only thing I can think of is an assumption that people would choose an OS based on its proprietary browser (Explorer7 or Safari) but I think everyone would agree that the decision would probably work the other way around (OS first, browser selection consequential).

If that's not it, what's the answer (the answer to a shareholder's question, perhaps) for pumping money into browser development? Is there a day of reckoning fast approaching when we'll all start paying for browsers and this long-running war is just for future market credibility and establishing a price point?

maybe i'm living in another galaxy (0)

brian6string (469449) | more than 11 years ago | (#6434044)

...but the article makes it sound like:
a) Opera is the obvious choice as best browser, and
b) Netscape hasn't released anything since 4.x

As for (a), clearly Mozilla and Netscape 7.1 (see below) win that race hands down. Tabbed browsing, junk mail and popup controls are THE features most of us really want in our NEXT browser.

With regard to (b), well Netscape 6.x was very good, and with the release of 7.1, Netscape is now in-sync with Mozilla.

Once word gets out--and it is--tabbed browsing will be the thing that puts Netscape and/or Mozilla on top.
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