The newest release of Mozilla, 1.4, is most likely the last Mozilla release well see: The Mozilla Organization plans to split the suite into stand-alone browser and mail clients by the time Version 1.5 comes out. If this is the last release of Mozilla, at least its going out with a bang. Version 1.4, released on www.mozilla.org last week, offers increased usability and customization options for the popular open-source Web browser. eWEEK Labs found the new features in Mozilla 1.4 to be remarkable improvements that enhance what was already one of the best browser options out there. In fact, Mozilla 1.4 earned our Analysts Choice honors for these enhancements.
Users trying out Mozilla 1.4 wont encounter many major differences at first because most of the new capabilities in Mozilla 1.4 are in the options and flexibility the browser provides users in deciding exactly how they want their browser to behave. Little things such as being able to set different launch options for startup, new windows and new tabs will go a long way toward reducing some of the everyday frustrations of Web browsing.
We also liked the small but helpful changes in pop-up ad blocking and image management, which made it easy to block images from some sites while permitting pop-ups from others.
Mozilla 1.4, likely The Mozilla Organizations (www.mozilla.org) final release of the browser as a big application suite, showcases many of the best features found in a Web browser today. With broad platform support, excellent customization options and good pop-up ad and spam blocking, Mozilla 1.4 provides top Web browsing and mail client capabilities. As an open-source application, the browser suite is freely available, although it has no available kits for corporate implementations.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
PRO: Excellent customization options; improved anti-spam and pop-up-blocking features; new table and image controls in HTML editor.
CON: New NTLM authentication works only in Windows.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST • Microsoft Corp.s Internet Explorer • Netscapes Netscape • Opera Software ASAs Opera
Bookmark handling has also been improved in this version, and we appreciated the new options for managing bookmarks to Web sites—although users looking for handy drag-and-drop and right-click menu capabilities such as those in Internet Explorer might still be disappointed.
Mozilla 1.4 now supports NTLM (NT LAN Manager) authentication, meaning it can connect to Web sites and servers that use the Windows and Microsoft Corp. Internet Information Services security option. However, this works only on the Windows versions of Mozilla and only in the browser.
The Composer HTML editor is one component of Mozilla that had been somewhat neglected in previous releases. In Version 1.4, however, Composer finally sees useful improvements. For example, as users resize images or tables, a new Standard resize bar displays a pop-up that shows the new size in pixels. Previously, resizing could be a frustrating case of typing in sizes and hoping for the best.
In the Mozilla mail client, the excellent Bayesian filter-based anti-spam features that were added in Version 1.3 have seen nice usability improvements. Its now much simpler to manage messages marked as junk and remove junk mail.
Netscape 7.1, Netscape Communications Corp.s latest browser, was released the same week as Mozilla 1.4 and is based on the Mozilla 1.4 code. Netscape users will find "new" features in Version 7.1 that were added in Mozilla 1.3. (See eWEEK Labs review of Mozilla 1.3 at www.eWEEK.com/labslinks.)
Although both browsers share the same code base, there are differences. More applications are installed by default, and more settings are active by default in Netscape, and, as usual, theres no way to install Netscape Mail without America Online Inc.s Instant Messenger. On the plus side, novice users will find it easier to get plug-ins running in Netscape, and the Netscape mail client comes with a spelling checker feature.
The Mozilla mail client continues to lack a built-in spelling checker, but one can be added from spellchecker.mozdev.org.
East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza is at email@example.com.
Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr Rapoza's current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.