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Netscape 8.0 supports dual engines

March 4, 2005 10:47 AM PST

Netscape 8
Hmm, I was surprised by a comment I read here that said the new Netscape, though based on Firefox, also supported using the IE rendering engine built into Windows. This is backed up on the Netscape site. If you hit a site that doesn't render correctly you can click an icon to switch to the IE engine. You can also tell it to remember the choice for that site. Now that I think about it, why not? My favorite browser, Avant, is just a wrapper that leverages the existing IE engine. Firefox compatibility is really good, so this isn't that big an issues anymore, but it would have been really helpful back in the early Mozilla days.

Comments (29)
Gavin, March 4, 2005 11:21 AM:

Firefox also has an extension available (ieview) that adds an entry to the right-click menu "Open Link Target in IE". It allows you to right-click on a link and open that link in IE.
It's for the same use, although it doesn't remember for next time.

John, March 4, 2005 11:25 AM:

Netscape will open it in the same window or new tab for example, pretty cool. Does ieview do that?

Paul, March 4, 2005 11:42 AM:

Does using the IE rendering engine also bring all the usual IE security problems?

"People who were exploited by this malicious ActiveX control, also recommend being exploited by the following web sites: ..."

J, March 4, 2005 12:09 PM:

I also use ieview. It basically just sends the URL over to a new IE window (I don't know why they don't just embed the rendering engine within a tab). But the extension is helpful for the few times when sites require Firefox. If you did embed in a tab, you'd want to somehow make it clear you were in IE with a big red border or something!

The three main things I've hit are:
+ All microsoft sites with an activex control (windows update, etc.) I don't even try to hit a MS site with firefox.

+ The puget sound traffic conditions page works fine, but won't play the videos of the traffic in Firefox.

+ There's somehow no plugin for windows media player in firefox, so if you hit a site with embedded video, and it says you need WM9 plugin (but you have WM10 installed already), you need to send that site over to IE with IEView.

J, March 5, 2005 12:14 AM:

BTW, does the name "Netscape" just bring to mind "I'm installing a horrible piece of software" to anyone else.

It's really sad, but I still have them in the category of Real Networks as early Internet software I used to love, but now refuse to install. I remember downloading music bootlegs in .rm formula way before the mp3 revolution and Napster. As an aside, QuickTime used to be firmly in this camp, but with the latest release, it seems to be an OK app.

Can anyone see why a Netscape branded browser would beat Firefox? What's the point of it?

John, March 5, 2005 02:04 AM:

Nope, I don't see a Netscape branded browser beating Firefox now with all the momentum it has, but you can't blame them for trying. They set the Mozilla monster free and in the end it eats its creator. Oh the irony. I'm sure there is an open source lesson in there somewhere - although I'm to jaded to see it.

Wheelson, March 8, 2005 11:13 AM:

Well, I'm giving this a try. I couldn't believe I was downloading something associated with AOL but thought I'd be objective and try it.

Although there are some things that are a little confusing about it, they're confusing because they are so configurable. I think once I configure everything the tool bar is gonna be pretty sweet.

For example, my #1 favorite feature after 5 minutes of playing around is the webmail button. Initially it was set for Netscape mail, but a few clicks of configuring and it now automatically logs me in to my gmail account. Very cool.

Being able to use IE with a few clicks and fully configure the settings is also cool. Whether you are using IE or Firefox, you can specify security settings. For an internal HR site for examle, I can say to fully trust it and maximize compatibility using IE. It will then remember this setting. You can even managage all of those settings via a main config manager. The current setting is also visible via an icon on the tab.

If I could reskin the thing to be something other than ugly light blue, then I'd be really happy, but at first glance, it might be a little puffy looking, but it lets me do exactly what I want to do so far.

John, March 8, 2005 04:29 PM:

You'll have to let us know how it goes.

Wheelson, March 9, 2005 08:45 AM:

It goes not so great.

While there are many powerful features, I don't want to pop open a help file to figure out how to use a browser. I'm afraid configuring some of the features is less than intuitive. And there are so damn many of them, to do something simple you have to pop open a help file which is just wrong. And this is from a browser aimed at AOL customers? OMG, the typical AOL customer will be lucky if their head doesn't explode trying to use this bloated browser.

However, regarding the dual engines, the sites that I had the most problems with still don't work even when using the IE engine within Netscape. For example, iFrames (I'm not advocating their use, I'm just saying lame intranet sites that need to work still don't).

Also, an ancient HR web app that needs IE 3 or 4 doesn't work. Whatever Netscape is doing isn't enough to fool that aite into thinking it's the real deal and it doesn't work.

So, given the bloat, unintuitive UI, crappy colors (doesn't use Windows look and feel), and less than perfect use of the IE engine after a day using it I can't say I recommend it.

J, March 10, 2005 12:23 AM:

Nice mini review. I can't say I'm surprised, but it's nice to have confirmation. It was worth giving it a chance. It's sort of like there's this 10% chance it could actually be cool, and if it is, then that's a great find.

Gavin, March 16, 2005 10:11 AM:

Not sure where to post this. Rumors about Microsoft's upcoming IE 7.0 including tabs...

Gavin, March 16, 2005 10:13 AM:

Oops try this link.

J, March 16, 2005 08:21 PM:

Nice, I need to find the CNET article where the MS manager claimed that no one wanted tabs.

It's ridiculous that they don't just do it anyway. They could spend a couple weeks dev work and release a "beta" update to the browser that added all this type of stuff (rss reader, tabbed browsers, etc). Most end users don't care that IE is less standards compliant or less secure than firefox. If anything, they see IE as more compatible. So just a few cosmetic changes and they could have headed off the whole firefox movement.

Paul, March 16, 2005 09:29 PM:

The article.

John, March 17, 2005 10:56 AM:

The tab thing is a very interesting topic. The conclusion that I've come to is that it something you just have to try to understand. I've now tried to explain the coolness of tabs to about 5 people here at MS and words alone just don't work. I get comments like, "well I don't really browse that way." and "I can already open up multiple IE windows, what's the difference?" For me it was something I also had to try and even then Mozilla's default behavior of opening up tabs in the foreground put me off. But once I found out how to get them to open up in the background I was sold. Maybe tabs really only appeal to a small set of users.

Paul, March 17, 2005 12:17 PM:

Also, tabs are a requirement when you exclusively use web mail. And the pain of having to restart the browser when installing something (i.e. flash) is huge, especially when you have many tabs openned that you plan on reading later...

Gavin, March 17, 2005 10:17 PM:

I agree with John, you have to try it to understand what it's all about... but in that repect it's like crack, just that little taste and you're hooked; no going back.
It's right up there with dual monitors. Using my home machine just isn't the same anymore now that I have dual monitors at work. If only one of them would find it's way to my house....

John, March 18, 2005 12:14 AM:

Funny you should mention dual monitors. I've had the same discussions about the coolness of dual monitors. I get alot of the same response. In fact most of the non-tabbed browsing guys I know also don't do dual monitors. I think the root of the issue is probably one of personality type. I call this type of person "good enough". Once a technology reaches some bare level of usability it is 'good enough'. For this type it is very hard to get them to change, no matter how better the new way is.

J, March 19, 2005 04:09 PM:

The main thing tabbed browsing is "all about" is windows horrible management of multiple documents in IE. If IE just conformed to MDI, it wouldn't be as big an issue. Of course, you would end up with tabs, just as VisualStudio relies on tabs for MDI.

I'd like an option for tabs in Word, Photoshop, etc.

I used to have dual monitors, and now have one. Paul and I discussed this recently, since he has duals at home and work. My main issue with dual monitors is that you're staring directly at the "crack". and they're typically both angled in, so ergonomically, I can't see how they're that great for you, whichever one you're using. I would prefer just going with a large flat panel like the new Dell 24" widescreen, and maybe a cheap 17" panel on the side for email/debugging/palettes, etc.

Another thing that's like crack is using a nice flat panel at work. It is only a short matter of time before you'll be buying one for home.

Paul, March 19, 2005 04:39 PM:

I don't notice the "crack" in dual monitor set up: my monitors (home and work) are the Dell FP 2100 with a small bezel. Anyways, when I sit up straight and a proper distance back, there is almost no head turning to view either monitor.

John, March 19, 2005 06:13 PM:

With Dual monitors you develop some common use habits. I always end up with one being a bit more 'primary monitor' than the other. This one is used for coding and most 'work'. I usually put email and my active notes on the secondary. Maybe a remote desktop to a test box etc. So to avoid staring at the crack I just arrange them so my primary monitor is almost center and secondary is off a bit off to the side. No one says you have to arrange things exactly symmetrically. Of course the best solution would be 3 monitors! Had that for a while with maxivista and my laptop.

That 24" dell is pretty sweet at 1920x1200. But you could get two of the FP 2100's for that price if you stack coupons on top of their regular sales. Then you have 3200x1200 usable desktop space.

J, March 19, 2005 06:21 PM:

Oh... don't think I haven't considered just going two of the 20". I'm thinking that having both running vertical at 2400 x 1600 might be the best way to go for coding, email and web browsing. I like the idea of offseting one to the side.

Paul, March 19, 2005 06:57 PM:

With 2 monitors, you can do work / web on one, and play movies on the other. Who needs a TV?

J, March 19, 2005 07:02 PM:

It occurs to me that 3200x1200 is just ridiculous. Imagine saying that just a couple years ago. And for around $1,100. Of course Paul's already used to this res. Storage is also ridiculous. You can get 1 Terabyte of storage for under $500 now. On the other hand, the fact that it's not unforseeable how you would fill that with media is the truly mind boggling thing.

John, March 19, 2005 07:09 PM:

Yeah, I'm running two 21" monitors at works also, for 3200x1200. It is really nice.

J, June 8, 2005 06:00 PM:

Latest MSN toolbar supports tabs in IE6. Somebody try this and let me know. I didn't realize IE hasn't had a major feature addition in THREE YEARS. MS only moves forward in meaningful directions when there is intense competition. It's really sad.

Also notice the link a few comments above where MS claims customers don't want tabbed browsing.

Paul, June 8, 2005 07:36 PM:

Hello IE, welcome to 2000! You're still a complete security disaster though (but now, with tabs!).

John, June 8, 2005 11:21 PM:

Ok I'm trying it out.
You can tell it's not fully integrated, but I guess it's a good first step. Things about it that annoy me: You can't open link in a new tab by using the middle mouse button. I'm used to doing that in Moz, Avant and Firefox. To open links in a new tab you have to either turn click and icon that cause all links to be new tabs (until you click it again) or hold down ALT while clicking or right click choose new background tab (which is at the bottom of the context menu). So holding down a key is not the end of the world but man can't we standardize on 'which' key to use?? Firefox: Ctrl+click. Avant: Shift+click. IE: Alt+click.

The other thing I find annoying is that you can't close tabs by double clicking on them. The only mouse way to close them is to click the X on the right. I don't care for this, I don't use it in Firefox either. Of the 3 tabbed browers I have now, Avant's close is best. It lets me either double click or middle click on the tab to close. Firefox at least lets me middle click to close.

My last grip: I can't find anyway to open favorites in a new tab. Again I think this is a side effect of not being fully integrated into the browser.

But like I said a good first step. I can't find the comment about "customers don't want..." But I have heard this first hand from MS higher ups I won't mention. My reaction is: telling customers what they don't want doesn't make it true. My other reaction is that I think it is hard for people who have not 'tried' tabs to understand what they are missing. One of my co-workers who was previously knocking tabs just came up to me today and said he 'gets' it now. What changed his mind? Just playing around with tabs on IE 7.0 for awhile.

J, June 13, 2005 12:34 AM:

I took a look at this too. It's really just another way to get you to run the MSN toolbar, rather than any real statement about tabbed browsing. The tabs are actually IN the toolbar, which is double height. Nothing to see here... move along.

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