Netscape supporting IE is good, but it's not enough

For AOL to quite literally breathe new life into the Netscape browser, it needs to do more than embrace and work with IE: Netscape needs to surpass IE in terms of ease-of-use and functionality.

To be sure, working with IE is a good thing, undoubtedly a step in the right direction for AOL, Netscape and Mozilla -- as well as for those of us who believe multiple products would improve the quality of, well, browsing.

But Netscape needs to be able to function independently of IE so that users can rid their desktops of Microsoft's monopolistic browser and opt instead for Net-scape. The same holds true, by the by, for Firefox, which I noted in an earlier post won't replace IE because my applications are bootstrapped to Micrsofot's browser.

Reports surfaced yesterday about how the once dominant browser that all but disappeared is back, albeit in a preview version. Only this time it supports the ubiquitous IE.

IDGNS correspondent Joris Evers wrote in a news story that when a page does not display properly within the standard Firefox-based configuration of Netscape, users can revert to the IE engine with just a few clicks.

As my colleague Jack McCarthy pointed out in his blog post the number of Firefox downloads has been enough to make Microsoft not only take notice, but say it could add more features to IE, though the software giant speculated it might not happen until Longhorn.

I will get my hands on Netscape's latest incarnation just as soon as I can. And when I do, I'll be looking to find a way to get IE off my desktop altogether. For that to happen, just like with Firefox, Netscape will also need my critical applications to work with it.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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