Netscape 7.0 review: Netscape 7.0

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Speedy; integrated IM client works with both AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ; reinstates Mozilla's pop-up suppressor.

The Bad Displays AOL ads everywhere; devours 30MB of disk space.

The Bottom Line There's no practical reason to switch to Netscape from either IE or Mozilla. But Netscape 7.01's reintegrated pop-up suppressor will draw no-nonsense surfers.

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There's something magical about the number seven--take, for example, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Netscape 7.0 didn't benefit from that number's lucky reputation. Although it delivered reliable, fast performance, ease of use, competent e-mail, and IM support, that old browser savaged itself with too many ad-related bugaboos. We were deeply disappointed that Netscape 7.0 was crowded with AOL ads and, worse, omitted one of Mozilla's best features: a pop-up-ad suppressor. Naturally, Netscape 7.01 hasn't done anything to block its parent company's ads, however, it has restored the ad suppressor. This addition is a great improvement over version 7.0, and boosts the browser's rating a bit. At present, give or take a feature or two, Netscape 7.01 and Internet Explorer 6 are still created just about equal, offering no driving reason to switch. But with its ad suppressor, Netscape is finally back on track with Mozilla 1.0.2.

Installs lickety-split
Code bloat seems inevitable these days, but it's out of hand in Netscape 7.01. The honking default installation weighs in at 30MB; meanwhile, the installer for Mozilla's browser, Netscape 7.01's foundation, is a comparatively svelte 10MB.

As a result, we emphatically recommend that you run the custom install instead of the default install (one of the installer's first screens lets you decide which one you want). That way, you can pick only the pieces you need. For example, we did away with Java 2.0, Winamp, and RealOne Player, which brought the download size to a much more manageable 15MB. You probably already have Java and a bevy of media players installed on your PC, so there's no need to download them again as part of Netscape 7.01.

Aside from size, Netscape's installer proves the worst kind of ad dropper. We were utterly annoyed by the AOL advertisements that the Netscape 7.01 installer scattered onto our PC, including an AOL shortcut on the Windows desktop and an AOL ad in the Favorites list for Internet Explorer. We understand that even free software has to make money somehow, but we much prefer Opera's approach; in its free version, the browser contains an ad to deliver banner ads. As of version 6, Internet Explorer doesn't plague you with any ads, which is the best option of all.

The look and feel of Netscape
Netscape 7.01's user interface doesn't differ much from that of Netscape 6.0 or the Mozilla 1.0 browser. Our favorite new touches, actually, are gleaned from the Mozilla 1.1 browser.

For example, Netscape features Mozilla's much-loved tabbed browsing; the browser window includes a row of tabs at the top that let you quickly switch between different Web pages. This feature is perfect for modern surfers who routinely visit many different sites, such as search engines and online brokers, during one session. And Netscape 7.01 improves the process. To open a new tab quickly, you simply click a handy little icon to the left of the tabs.

Once you have various Web pages loaded into a set of tabs, a new option in the Bookmarks menu, called "Bookmark this group of tabs," saves all of your open tabs as a single bookmark, so you can reopen all the tabs at once just by clicking the bookmark. To make it easy to distinguish these group bookmarks from regular ones, the Bookmark menu gives them a different icon; instead of a single bookmark, it's a set of three bookmarks stacked on top of each other. Although tabs and group bookmarks might seem like minor changes, they make it much easier to browse multiple Web sites and save groups of related pages. Internet Explorer doesn't offer anything similar.

Read more of the review (page 2)

CNET Labs tests Netscape 7.0

Note the little icon to the tab labeled "Welcome to C..." Click that icon, and Netscape 7.01 will open a new tab. Also, the IM client in the My Sidebar now supports ICQ.

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Netscape 7.0

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