Being an avid Linux user, I've always used Netscape as my browser of choice. Even on my gaming machine at home that runs Win98, I still use Netscape. It's always seemed to crash less frequently than IE on my systems and, coupled with my general loathing of Microsoft, using Netscape was always a natural choice.

The 4.x versions of Netscape Communicator aren't the best pieces of software, to say the least. Many times, people complain just as hard and loud about Netscape crashing on them as others do about IE crashes.. It's well known that its code was really more of a set of bug fixes, hacks, and some UI improvements more than a new version of a browser. But something was needed to combat MS's release of IE4.

As those of you who use Linux know, when something crashes on our systems, it gets noticed. In a Windows environment, a reboot or re-installation of an application are somewhat commonplace to fix problems. With us, if a program even so much as lags in re-drawing its panels, we take notice..

Lately, I've started to take notice of Netscape.

It's been locking up on about 25% of the Flash sites I visit, but works for the other 75%. It's been barfing on my email folders. Its standards compliance really sucks. It freezes for about 30 seconds upon startup when you're behind a proxy (has anyone else ever noticed that?). Java support is somewhat lacking. So I'm moving on. Farewell, Netscape, dear friend....

...Mozilla here I come!!!

With the announcement of Milestone 13, the Mozilla Project has released what they're calling an Alpha version of the final Mozilla browser. Indeed, after using it for a couple days now, I'm convinced that it's not only more stable than Netscape 4.7, but also faster, doesn't lock up on me, is 100% standards compliant, has customizable chrome, and is just so much cooler. It's been a long time since it has felt 'cool' using a browser.

Check out how they compare:


(Click for a larger image)

In the upper left of my screen, you can see the evolt.org page rendered in Netscape 4.7. The lower right is the straight m13 build (not a nightly build). The first thing you might notice is that the font is much easier to read in Mozilla. Thanks to the standards compliant screen resolution, Unix and Mac users will no longer see smaller fonts than their Windows counterparts. Quicker load times. Multiple POP and/or IMAP accounts from the email client. No more page reloads when you resize a window. The list goes on and on...

The point is though that this alpha release of Mozilla is ready for primetime use. Personally, I'm ready to move on to this exciting new browser for the majority of my web surfing and email. The Mozilla milestones have always been fun to play with, report bugs on, and even use casually to surf -- m13 really makes a serious case for how great the final Mozilla and Netscape 5.0 releases are going to be.

Next time, I'll give a preview of the tons of new features that you'll find in the latest Mozilla milestone. In the meantime, its time for 4.7 to start collecting dust :)