The first beta of Netscape 7, released earlier this week, has been received with cautious enthusiasm.
Netscape 7.0 Preview Release, which is based on the recent Mozilla 1.0 RC2 build and the Gecko browser engine, features a variety of enhancements on Netscape 6.2. These include tabbed browsing (a la Opera), print preview, the ability to save complete web pages, email return receipts, message labels and S/MIME support. A quick Search within mail and address book, filtering facility and mail alerts, has also been included.
There's also enhancements to the proprietary components including an Instant Messenger that supports file transfers, buddy icons and ICQ support. An additional feature is Radio@Netscape, a streaming audio service in an improved toolbar.
The release of Netscape 7.0 Preview Release 1 comes at an interesting time with increased speculation that America Online is to ditch IE as its preferred client browser. Such a move could re-ignite the browser wars of the 90s, and even its possibility makes Netscape a more important target client for developers.
Early feedback on developer site mozillaZine ranges from highly positive to comments about glitches or comments that the browser is broken. Overall the view seems to be that Netscape 7.0 is better than 6.2 and IE, but as a site focus on tech-savvy Mozilla users it's hardly surprising that there's plenty of grumbles - not least about the size of the browser. Netscape 7.0 Preview Release 1 is 30.8 MB compared to the 10MB footprint of Mozilla for Windows.
Still those who prefer Mozilla open source browser will welcome the availability of RC3 yesterday, the last release before the full version, whose availability is drawing closer. You can see the release notes for Mozilla RC3 here. ®