Netscape Browser Becomes 'Navigator' Again
In a blast from the past, the Netscape Browser, which was resurrected in 2005 by AOL, has become Netscape Navigator once again for version 9.0. The new release, currently in beta, brings a number of new features such as built-in news, URL correction, and link-sharing.
As expected, Netscape Navigator 9 (screenshots) closely integrates with AOL's new Netscape.com site, which lets users vote on stories and leave comments. A new Friends' Activity Sidebar and Tracker provides a quick view of recently posted news and comments on the site.
In addition, a Link Pad enables users to store interesting links that don't merit bookmarking. Navigator 9 can also run any Firefox 2-compatible extension for further customization. On the user interface side, developers have combined the stop and reload button, and brought back the "throbber" from Netscape 7.
While version 8 of Netscape was largely outsourced to Mercurial Communications, AOL has created its own development team for Navigator 9. The new browser is now cross-platform, compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
Like version 8, Netscape Navigator 9 is built atop Mozilla's Firefox browser, but AOL has removed the option to use the Internet Explorer rendering engine.
When it was first reborn, the Netscape Browser was intended to be a friendlier version of Firefox, adding more privacy features and phishing protections, as well as the option to render pages using Internet Explorer's Trident engine for compatibility. The software included a "Trust Rating" system that warned users of potentially dangerous Web sites.
However, uptake was slow as Firefox adoption soared, leading many to speculate the effort would simply be abandoned. Now, it seems AOL plans to pitch Netscape 9 as a complementary desktop application to Netscape.com.
Netscape Navigator 9 Beta 1 is available for download from FileForum.