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Fourth Generation Browsers

-Stan Gelber

Should you upgrade your browser to a fourth-generation Internet suite?

I say absolutely. Both Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 and Netscape Communicator 4.0 contain major improvements that will make your surfing experience much richer and possibly a little faster.

Now the question, which one should you have? Because both IE4 and Netscape's products can be downloaded without charge (Netscape restricts free downloads for personal use). I would suggest getting both if you have the disk space, as each offers something special. I keep both browsers on my system so if a web site is designed to operate best with one or the other, I can properly view it. They can even run simultaneously.

PC magazine in a recent review said "IE4 offers the richest browsing experience, even without its optional desktop integration, about which we have decidedly mixed opinions. (You can read the full article at PC Magazine. IE4 and Communicator have converged in many areas: Both use the same newsreader and the most current mail standards and both support simple Web-page editors; push delivery systems; and various other tools.

Both have gone through interface changes and provide flexible tollbars, drag-and-drop support, automatic URL completion, and better control over options such as security. Also supported are automatic software updates.

Netscape still provides basic services and is a stand-alone product but Microsoft has gone one step further, it has merged the Web browser and the operating system. IE4 now can become an integral component of the Windows shell integrating your desktop icons into miniature Web pages, and Internet-related tasks into the Start menu. These shell integration features are also part of the Windows 98 desktop.

After reviewing both Navigator and IE4, I found that both are stable, easy to use, and efficient. They do require 30 to 45 Mbytes of disk space so be warned, I'm also not too excited about letting IE4 control what and how I view my desktop (an installation option exists to cancel the desktop modification). Unless you spend a lot of time on the net, I believe most of you will want to maintain your old desktop and access IE4 in the usual way, by clicking on the icon.

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