[BW II? Return of the Browser Wars]
June 5, 2002 By Dave Kristula
Many analysts in
the industry predict
AOL will incorporate
Netscape 7 in a
of AOL software,
as the default
Designers beware: Soon you will have to design for two browsers. How hard will it be? Just remove Microsoft proprietary code and stick to web standards such as XML and XHTML/HTML.
Mozilla.org, the open source continuation of the Netscape Communicator project, has released version 1.0 of its Mozilla web browser. AOL Time Warner is preparing Netscape 7 (now available for download in a beta form) based on this standards-compliant browser. AOL has already incorporated Gecko, the render engine within the Mozilla project, in its Compuserve 7.0 software.
Many analysts in the industry predict AOL will incorporate Netscape 7 in a future version of AOL software, replacing Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the default web browser. This action would give up to 35 million subscribers near immediate access to this alternative browser and could challenge Microsoft's dominance in the web browser arena.
I've been using Mozilla for several months now, and I think it is a fantastic browser. I've had very few crashes and security updates are infrequent (Compare this to Internet Explorer's near weekly security update patch requirements). One reason for the reliability of the software is that since we have a look at the code that creates the browser, we can better predict what could go wrong. Typically, software engineers and programmers who know that a large audience will review their code write more cleanly and will be compulsive about ensuring there are no major bugs.
The good news for everyone is that Mozilla is based completely on standards, so if you know how to write standards-compliant web sites, you won't have to change anything. If instead you've relied of proprietary solutions (like silly ActiveX controls) you may have a few changes to make.
Adoption of Netscape 7 and Mozilla 1.0 in the general Internet community will probably take place over a long period of time. Many Windows and Mac users will not see any need to download this new, robust browser, unless they are tired of the constant updates required to keep Internet Explorer close to secure. But for those people using other operating systems like Linux (and those with Windows who are tired of the software monopoly) there is now a great new browser option in town.
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