Monday August 7th, 2000
Netscape 6 PR2 has hit the servers. These are accessible from Netcenter, so I suppose they're official.
CAVEAT:On the Windows version (the only version I tested), the files apparently aren't final yet. To get the install to work, click "Cancel" while Smartdownload makes its attempt to start the download process. When it asks you if you want to Cancel your download, click "Yes". The process should start properly.
My verdict, upon initial viewing: Why doesn't the install work without having to do that workaround? Why don't the links on the initial-start-front-page work? Why do I have a Net2Phone link on my personal toolbar even though I didn't install it? And why does Net2Phone start (and then crash) when I click that link??? Why is the default skin not Classic, and instead that goofball Modern skin? Why are all the extra sidebar panels visible in the AIM client? Why is the "Setup" button obscured on the AIM client? Why? Why? Why?
Why am I bothering with this when M18 is already so much better? My wish: that Netscape gets their act together for PR3. This is one of the stupidest rollouts that I've seen (worse than PR1, even). Damnit, guys - the Mozilla product is so much better.
I recommend downloading an M18 build if you're looking for a better indication of where the product is at currently. The PR2 build doesn't do it justice, and I don't see that it has enough useful extras to recommend it.
Well I guess I'm the first one to review this for the Mac.
HOLY CRAP. We're in trouble.
All I can do is hope to holy hell that Netscape buries this release and no one in the general public ever downloads/installs PR2, ever.
Oh, and by the way, let me say in advance to whoever will argue the usual "this is pre-beta software, blah blah blah blah" let me remind you that THIS IS THE FIRST EXPOSURE MANY PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE WITH NETSCAPE 6. Their opinions will be formed largely on their earliest experiences. The fact that netscape has released this is.. oh jesus....sweet jesus help us.
I'm sorry, I'm still just totally stunned.
Let's start off with the download/install. I loaded the installer (very small, admittedly, though it was located in a directory labeled for Mac OS 8.5. I use Mac OS 9, but after downloading the readme confirmed it worked on 8.5 OR ABOVE) and took a look inside the folder. There's a README file with astonishingly dry, boring installation instructions, and there's a License Agreement file. No personality whatsoever. Nothing discussing this as an open source project, nothing about what this release is for, no notes about reporting bugs, and no reminder that what you're about to see is a work in progress and you can expect that it's going to be fixed and check out a nightly of mozilla and if you want to help build it, here's what you do and....on and on.
What a totally missed opportunity to introduce the project.
Anyway, so I ran the very unappealing installer which asked me which components I wanted to load (I have no need for German, wanted to try a mail/news free install, etc.)
1. It then installed everything, totally ignoring the components I selected. 2. It took about 50x longer to download than the Mozilla nightlys. Why can I get the whole of Mozilla's .sit in less than a minute on my DSL, unstuff and just run, but to get Netscape I had to go through a whole rigamarole of downloading each peice, then processing them all which took over 10 minutes?! (don't tell me the bigger size is the reason either. The "extras" might account for a little more time, but not this astounding install-a-thon) 3. It then ran a profile manager thing and then, at my foolish request, converted my Netscape 4.x profile to Netscape 6. This took, on my Powerbook G3 about 5 drive-churning minutes. 4. Finally it finished. It then asked me to enter all kinds of bizarro Netcenter-related stuff. I THINK I have a netcenter account (that's my.netscape.com, right?) so I entered some info, which it took without asking for a password or anything. All I have to ask is-- what the hell was it going on about? I just wanted to try the browser, not apply for an East German exit visa. 5. FINALLY after more whirring churning, gurgling and spinning, I finally got something that looked like a browser, albeit wearing the CRAPPY "modern" skin. 6. Displayed on the screen was a totally ugly page with some kind of layered animation that was moving so slowly I could see the redraws. The computer felt like it had ground to a halt.
I should mention that the above process took about 15 minutes. A typical Mozilla install for me is, oh, maybe 3 minutes from download to running it. During the install, there was no caveat about (1) how the zillions of files were temporary and that (2) I can expect vast improvements in future versions and that (3) gosh, you can help with this fun internet experiment, and here's how.
In short, the installation experience just plain sucked.
I should also mention that PR2 starting up for the first time on my Mac feels about 1/3 the speed of Mozilla's recent builds. The AIM client in the sidebar made me laugh out loud it was so slow and awkward. After getting no response from double-clicking a buddy's name a few times to send an AIM too, I suddenly locked up as about 9 IM windows slowly tiled themselves on the screen. I stopped laughing and my jaw just hit the floor.
I must also add that during the install, the fake non-native widgets looked totally half-baked. I was having flashbacks to Mac's infamous Word 6 port. I swear to god Java's Swing looks about 5x classier than this awkward mess. Netscape, can you at least use "Classic" for the installer part so I can see some normal looking buttons?
When i finally switched to the classic theme (the preferences wouldn't open at first, and then after I selected it, I couldn't hit the OK button, I had to Cancel) things looked MUCH better, but it's still abominably slow.
WHY OH WHY doesn't this default to classic?
Anyway, I honestly don't know what Netscape is thinking. I'm have a feeling this will be one of the kinder reviews by a Mac user in the next few days. (I *LOVE* the Mozilla project you guys...)
To anyone who may have come here who is not really familiar with Mozilla, please do NOT judge Mozilla on the Netscape PR2 release. It doesn't have to be like this...
Wait for PR3, or go grab one of the M18 nightly builds: <ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla/nightly/latest/> -- it's a lot better.
PS - I hope that they've got better bug report handling than they did for PR1 cuz I have a feeling they'll be overwhelmed.
PPS - Sorry for anyone I've offended. I'm still a believer in this project, and if I made any errors I'm sure they'll be corrected quickly.
PPPS - Stupid new menu items of the day: "Print Plus" (?!!!!)