AOL-Netscape charts new course with Netscape Navigator 6.0

ITworld.com |  Development

Barry Schuler, president, Interactive Services Group at AOL said, "Gecko is fast and
highly standards compliant and it runs on multiple platforms. Today it runs on PCs, Mac
and different flavors of Unix. It becomes the component or module with which people can
create different software or hardware products. He noted that even Microsoft would be
welcome to incorporate Gecko into Internet Explorer.

It is a bit early to gauge Netscape Navigator's chances of regaining industry
attention. Clearly, as a major market force, AOL has the potential to spread the
technology widely.

"It is not polished, but it is dramatically better in a lot of ways that will actually
matter," said Dan Kegel, a developer at Disappearing Ink, a company based in San
Francisco that provides secure email software. Kegel noted that improvements ranged
from the small, like autoscrolling when filling out forms, to bigger things, like
faster redraws after a page has been resized.

"Netscape used to be a dog and this is just fast," said Kegel.

Kegel also found that the Cascading Style Sheet support is a lot more complete. "People
will no longer be cursing Netscape," he said.
Kegel was impressed with the ability of the browser to be componentized. He noted that
this will make it easier to embed it in other applications.
Although he encountered a few problems related to color and a few minor bugs, Kegel
noted, "It is definitely a preview for people that want to see what is coming. Diehards
can switch now if they want to put up with little problems. Web authors will definitely
want to start using it."

Also as part of the AOL-Netscape announcement came word of an Internet appliance
jointly designed with Gateway.

AOL chief Case showed prototypes of the new Internet appliances developed by AOL and
Gateway that he said will also help make the converged vision a reality by providing
consumers with tools for faster, easier access to the Internet.

The products, which will use the Linux operating system and a lightweight version of
Netscape's Gecko browser, include a lightweight "countertop" appliance for the kitchen,
a desktop appliance designed to serve as a low-cost alternative to the PC and a
wireless Web pad.

One attendee sounded impressed by the Internet appliances on show here.

"I'm in the Internet business, but my wife is a general consumer and this is exactly
the kind of thing that will win her over," said Mark Foster, vice president of
marketing with edupoint.com, a Solana Beach, California, provider of online educational
courses.

"Key to all this is simplicity for the consumer," Foster added. "It's got to be as
seamless for them as (Case) portrayed it to be here today."

Another show-goer was more skeptical.

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