Netscape Navigator 6 has shipped, after more than two years of development. In that development cycle, pretty much everything that comprised the prior version of the browser was scrapped and re-written. Which would make you think that this latest browser should be lean, speedy, highly compliant with standards, and stable. Sadly, it appears to be none of the above.

  • It’s a 23MB download.
  • CSS rendering is hit and miss
  • DHTML rendering is very poor to awful
  • it’s crashed my Win98 and Win2000 machines multiple times. Each.

It’s difficult to determine to what extent these are issues with standards compliance [it’s been suggested this was to be the most compliant browser, ever] or just buggy implementation of the standards. Worse, many of these same issues were reported months ago, and yet remain uncorrected between the prior pre-release version and 6.0 Gold.

Surely Netscape has redeemed its product with compelling new features? Well… it can be skinned. It has a new sidebar. It integrates email and IM in a rather nifty fashion. It now supports XML and DOM. At the same time it’s dropped support for LDAP. Goodbye, corporate desktop.

With Microsoft’s Internet Explorer now claiming upwards of 85% of the desktop browser share, does this spell the end of Netscape? Or was the final chapter written more than twenty months ago?

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