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The Pocket Guide to Web Browsers

Posted by netwebly | Updated 12.18.2000

Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0

You win Mr.Gates. Forget the Anti-Trust Case. Forget the complaints about licensing and incompatible products that have plagued Microsoft for years. The fact is most people don't care.

Most are more than happy to use a browser that is more reliable, more sophisticated and far easier to use than anything else on the market. Does this mean your grandchildren will be using version 26.0 of Explorer in the year 2040? Nah. The crystal ball shows a competitor appearing out of nowhere. The only questions are who it will be and when it will happen.

  Netscape Navigator/Communicator
Browser Resources

Netscape Navigator/Communicator
When AOL purchased Netscape two years ago for $401 million experts wondered if what is basically a marketing company at heart would have the savvy to keep Navigator competitive.

The answer turned out to be no. The desperately needed release of 5.0 as been pushed back leading to serious morale problems in Palo Alto. Skeptics think the company should worry less about developing branding channels and more about restoring Navigator to it's former glory.

This browser comes in two distinctly different flavors - Netscape Navigatorr, a basic browser with limited functionality and Netscape Communicator, a more full-featured version including email, and Netscape Composer, an entry level web page editor.

For more on Netscape see "Netscape - Et Tu Mountain View?" and Netscape 6.0 reviewed.


...Fans praise it's blazing speed and precision handling. Considered by some to be the only viable alternative to IE5 following the demise of Netscape.
The industry press chuckled when Opera appeared on the scene.

Years later the Opera browser is still around and growing in popularity among surfers unhappy with overproduced software and bloated code. We judge it to be worth a test drive at the very least.

Critics wonder how much market share this browser would have won by now if the company had not insisted on making users pay for it after a 30 day trial period, a strategy at odds with the free distribution scheme that quickly made both Netscape and Internet Explorer household names.

Minuses: They make you pay for it.

Webvergnungen - iCab

This cute little German web browser has already attracted a modest following among Mac users. "Das Internet Taxi fur den Mac." will appeal to surfers hungry for a change from Internet Explorer.

Useful features include the ability to bookmark individual frames on web pages (Really useful considering the sort of bookmarking problems frames often cause in other browsers), cookie filtering capabilities, and an image filtering system which can block out unwanted banner ads. HTML purists will appreciate one feature in particular - a unique "smiley" feature will let you know immediately if a page conforms to current W3C standards. A handy tool for web developers who want to know if their pages are shutting out potential visitors.

Minuses: - Mac only. USD 29 for full featured iCABpro,


A browser? Well, technically no. NeoPlanet is a "skin" or shell that slips over a I.E.5 engine.
A good-looking, snazzy design with plenty of neat features but one glaring weakness: a tendancy to self-destruct in moments of stress.

As has been said of many a young athlete, there's potential for greatness here - if and only if the NeoPlanet development team gets its act together and irons out some rather serious wrinkles. A large selection of available skins which allow users to customize Neoplanet's appearance to suit their tastes, make this one of the more visually appealing browsers.

minuses: Expect spam from NeoPlanet marketing. Annoying pop-up ads on browser launch. A weak email program. You'll probably want to use either Outlook or Eudora instead.


Another IE deriviant. Netcaptor's claim to fame is it's ability to allow users to toggle back and forth between different web sites using a convenient tab based system.
Apart from this feature, this browser looks, smells and tastes a lot like it's Microsoft parent.

Minuses: Users are forced to endure the company's banner advertising in an integrated browser window or pay US 19.99 for an ad-free version.


In our Windows-Centric world, it's easy to forget that a significant number of computer users are still stuck in Dos-based environments - either by choice, or because they simply have no other option.
Arcachne, a compact, DOS-based browser developed by Czechoslovakian programmer Michael Polak in Prague, enables users to surf the web using the same sort of graphical interface you'd find in Windows or on the Mac system.

The ideal choice if you find yourself stuck using an older machine without the resources to run today's superbrowsers.

Changing the company name from XChaos software to Arachne Labs was a wise marketing move. Some surfers were understandably hesitant to install anything on their computer from an unknown eastern european company with a name that brings to mind visions of ... the ebola virus.

Now that they've come up with a more suitable corporate identity it may be time for the Czechs to rename their product.

Our Suggestion? How about HappyPlanet? Sort of like the NeoPlanet thing. Only Happier.

Web browser resources/Suggested reading

The netwebly browser garage
To make life a little easier for you, we've pulled together a small collection of browsers you can download and install on your system to check your web site for potential may also want to try one of these out if you'd rather use an earlier version of one of the current browsers on the market.

The Web Standards Project
Outspoken advocates of browser standards. A focal point for the standards debate

Viewable with any browser
Grassroots campaign for stricter browser standards. If only it were so.

Solid collection of articles and tips on browsers and plug-ins. Updated frequently. A member of the network.

Getting the most out of your browser
It's among the best ways (if not the best) to learn how web pages work.
Popping open the hood to take a look at the source code of a web page to see how something is done is straightforward and often revealing (In Explorer click View + Source.), but looking for a specific snippet of HTML or a particular script can be a pain, especially if you're inexperienced or facing a page with hundreds of lines of code. Happily, Microsoft has come up with a solution. The Web Developer Accessories utility for Internet Explorer 5.0 enables a new browser command "view partial source". Highlight a page element and then right click - you'll see only the code you're interested in. A must-have. 131 KB free download available from

Comprehensive collection of browser downloads hosted by CNET.

Web Browser OpenFAQ

Nice collection of frequently asked questions about web browsers.

Linux Web Browsers
A good collection of linux compatible web browsers from blue chip download site DaveCentral
The widely publicized open-source project at the heart of the latest version of the Netscape browser. Although Mozilla has received much sympathy in the press, open source programmers have been predictably reluctant to participate in a project with close ties to America Online.

Judge Jackson's findings of fact in the Microsoft Anti-Trust Trial
The 1999 document in which US District court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson detailed the facts at stake in the government's case against Microsoft. 200+ pages. Break out the popcorn.

How Microsoft played hardball
Classic October 1998 Times article chronicling the Redmond software giant's tactics in the browser war

Applause for IE's Cookie Catcher
[Wired News]

It's An IE World (Wide Web)
[Wired News]

How Microsoft Lets You Build Your Own Browser

Lawsuit Says You Can't Escape Netscape
[Industry Standard]

Mozilla Dreams

Microsoft Awarded Style Sheet Patent

Microsoft Disputes Netscape Meeting Account
[N.Y. Times ]

The Browser Wars: Navigator vs. Explorer
[Upside. 1996]

The Netscape Tragedy: by Jon Katz
[Slashdot. 1998]

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