eWEEK Labs found a lot to like in the first preview of Netscape Communications Corp.s next-generation browser, Netscape 7.0.
The browser, which became available last week in preview form at www.netscape.com, has useful user interface aids, strong standards support and a much-improved mail client. Based on eWeek Labs tests, Netscape 7.0 will be an excellent upgrade, addressing almost all of the deficiencies of previous versions while adding very welcome features.
This preview release provides a glimpse into not only the final release of Netscape 7.0, which is due this summer, but also the upcoming Mozilla 1.0, from which Netscape 7.0 inherits a great deal. Netscape 7.0 Preview Release is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS and Mac OS X systems.
One of the new features in Netscape 7.0 is the optional tabbed window interface, which lets users view multiple Web pages in tabbed windows within the browser rather than in separate windows. We could right-click on a link within a Web page and choose to open it as a tabbed window. Also, if we had several pages open within tabbed windows, we could choose to create a bookmark group.
To use the new Click-to-Search feature, we highlighted any word or phrase in a Web page and then right-clicked on it and quickly initiated a search.
We also liked the new Download Manager, from which we could quickly view all completed, stopped and in-progress downloads. We could also pause an in-progress download and return to it later.
Version 7.0 finally adds full-screen mode and print preview to the Netscape browser. Another enhancement is the Quick Launch feature for the Windows version of Netscape 7.0. Quick Launch places an icon in the system tray and pre-loads several necessary files. When the icon is clicked, Netscape launches immediately.
One backward step for Netscape, at least in the Windows version, is the custom install option. In Netscape 6.0, if a user chooses a custom install, he or she can choose not to install any module except the browser. In Netscape 7.0s custom install, Netscape mail and Instant Messenger were combined—whether we wanted both or not.
Netscape 7.0 looks like it will be an excellent corporate mail client. In addition to good LDAP support, the Netscape 7.0 mail client supports secure mail options, shared IMAP folders and offline LDAP.
In addition, while in the Netscape 6.0 mail client it was impossible to export address book content, in Version 7.0, we could export our address book as a standard .ldif file or in comma- or tab-delimited text.