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The other Browsers.
by Juan C. Dürsteler & Enric Fontdecaba [message nº 24]

Since the pioneering Mosaic, six generations of browsers have taken place. Each one better than the previous one, always within the same paradigm. Will this situation change shortly?

Some weeks ago Netscape launched version 6.0 of Navigator trying to surmount the secondary position of its browser regarding Microsoft Internet Explorer. Microsoft's market share was nearly 70% already in1999 

Besides being more standard compliant, this new browser offers a configurable user interface. This feature, of dubious utility, was already available for Internet Explorer users with the NeoPlanet extensions from about 2 years ago.

But, what lies beyond the ubiquitous Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator?. Are there browsers offering other functions? There are more browsers than it seems, as you can see at Evolt.

NeoPlanet.com, has been one of the first Windows programs that use 'skins' that have achieved some success. The idea is to change the appearance, the colors and textures or the shapes of the buttons (but not their position) of the programs without modifying the functionality.

But NeoPlanet goes beyond this aesthetical change. It provides a set of Internet links in a somewhat unusual format. It doesn't use the common drop-down menu, but a set of selectable bars. It also provides an ensemble of chat sites thematically grouped. But these added features are completely peripheral. They don't improve substantially the way you interact with Internet, which is the important thing in this arena.

Much more interesting is NetCaptor. This browser allows you to open several sites simultaneously and to commute between them very easily. The program uses a folder and label paradigm. Only one web site is visible, but you still see the other site labels. The labels have a load level indicator: red means that the site is not loaded; green, the site is loaded. 

Moreover NetCaptor lets you to store a bunch of addresses to reuse in subsequent sessions, in which it will open automatically all the predefined sites at once. NetCaptor uses the rendering engine of Netscape Navigator, so you have to own both of them in order to operate.

WebSurfACE, is a kind of hybrid between NetCaptor and NeoPlanet that lets you use sets of labelled web sites along with skins a la Neoplanet. In our tests it demonstrated to be more unstable than NetCaptor.

There are other proposals, some of them innovative like CyberWorld a 3D browser like those mentioned in numbers 15 and 20 of this magazine, but that struggle against the crude bandwidth reality. TheBrain could almost be classified as a browser...

As you can see in these last 7 years no relevant initiative able to surpass the present hypertextual page imposed by Mosaic has been seen

Too much time for a world in which Mosaic belongs to, at least, the Jurassic era. Will be the age of the dinosaurs next to its end? The meteorite has not yet been detected.

More Browsers in

  • BrowserWatch: News about browsers, plug-ins and ActiveX controls. Interesting
  • Mozilla: OpenSource version of Netscape 6.0. Medal to the one who can compile it.
  • Opera : The third in the browser ranking. From Scandinavia a lightweight browser, that doesn't offer anything new.
  • NetQuest: Mixture between browser and search engine. Interesting idea, but difficult to use.
  • Enigma Browser: Nothing new, but an interesting associated web page.
  • CipherNet: Yet another 'skinned' browser including mail and HTML editorl.

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