Netscape Navigator 9 Released – The Social Browser Has Landed

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The 1994 iteration of the Netscape Navigator browser was named as the number one technology-related product of all time by PC World. It wasn’t until the browser was released by Netscape Communications that the internet revolution began. And after over a decade, with today’s release of the 2007 iteration of the Netscape Navigator browser version 9.0, Netscape brings to you the social media revolution.
As pointed out in the PC World mention, the Netscape browser was the reason people started spending countless hours on the web. Unfortunately, though, Netscape couldn’t keep up with the times and was eventually overcome by Internet Explorer. The web has changed drastically in the past decade, and with the rise of social media as a key component of the web, having taken the browser for a spin, I wouldn’t advise betting against Netscape this time.
You may have heard about the redesign of last June, which signaled the start of a long-term strategy at Netscape to not only embrace the social web but push it to it’s limits. The team at Netscape received a lot of criticism due to the similarities between the newly redesigned news portal and, which was perceived as its biggest rival as a result of the redesign. While each social news site–whether it be Digg, Netscape, Reddit, or a less prominent one–has its charm, none can maintain the loyalty of its audience unless they keep innovating and strive to provide the best possible experience for their respective communities. Having said that, let’s see how the browser streamlines and enhances your everyday Netscape community member’s experience on the social web.
While there are two main ‘social’ features in the browser, it also provides us with several less readily apparent but intuitive enhancements.
Social Integration – Arguably the main reason to use the browser is for its integration with the social news portal. Not only can you now submit and vote on (or sink) content directly from the browser without requiring a website to have a ‘submit content’ button/widget installed, but you can also follow what your friends doing, keep up-to-date on site-mail communications, and just see what the latest updates on Netscape are through a handy sidebar within the browser.
###Submitting Content
Submitting content has never been easier. Surf the web as you would like on any day, and whenever you see a page that you think is worth sharing with other people, here’s what you do.
Look at the top right-hand corner of the address bar of your browser. Unless the page you are currently on has already been submitted to Netscape, a share button will appear in that corner.
Simply highlight the text on the page that you would like to use as your submission summary (this is handy because sometimes websites will provide a summary of their content at the very top) and click the share button. A submission page will open with the article title and summary (automatically taken from the text you highlighted). All you have to do now is choose the appropriate channel, assign a few descriptive tags and submit the content.
###Interacting With Content
If, on the other hand, the share button does not appear, it means that the content was already submitted. In this case, since you are already on the page and have probably read the content and made up your mind about it, you can interact with the content, again directly through the browser.
By clicking on the appropriate button you can vote on the story, sink the story (i.e. negative vote), or click the comment button to be taken to the page to read the community’s take on the story and add your own commentary to it. Just for some additional detail in the case that the article has already been submitted, the number of votes, sinks, and comments will be indicated in the bottom right-hand corner of your browser window.
###The Sidebars
There are a total of four sidebars integrated with the Netscape browser. All of them are available by navigating through View > Sidebar in the menu bar.
The Friends’ Activity Sidebar
The sidebar which was initially released as a Firefox extension has now been integrated into the Netscape Navigator 9.0, and allows you to keep up-to-date on what your friends are doing on Here are the two states of the Friends’ Activity Sidebar, indicating if there are any updates from your friends or not.
If there are updates, simply click the button to open the sidebar and see the latest activity from your friends. Only 5 stories are displayed in the Sidebar per user by default, but clicking on the user’s name will take you to further activity by the user.
Netscape Latest Activity Tracker
The second sidebar that has been integrated into the browser is an in-browser of Netscape’s Tracker Live that tracks the very latest activity from and displays it to you in your browser sidebar. While dubbed live, the tracker only updates once every 45 seconds.
The third and fourth sidebars, ‘Netscape News’ and ‘Link Pad’ are covered later, in more relevant sections.
Netscape Site-Mail Notifier
Just like the Friends’ Activity Sidebar, the Site-Mail Notifier was also initially released as a Firefox extentions. The site-mail notifier does exactly what the name suggests. As soon as a Netscape community member sends you a site-mail message, the button indicates that you have received a message. Here are the two states of the Site-Mail Notifier:
Clicking on the button will take you to your sitemail page on, where you can read and respond to all your messages.
News in the Browser – This feature is specifically for those those who like the idea behind the ‘wisdom of crowds’ approach to deciding what news is importance and deserve attention, i.e. are only interested in the reading aspect of social news but not the submitting, voting, and commenting.
With this feature (and the following sidebar), there is no longer any need to visit the site. Instead, you can access all the most popular stories on the site just by clicking ‘News’ in your menu bar. You can set which channels you want to see stories from by clicking ‘News’ and then ‘Manage Subscriptions’, and access additional preferences by clicking ‘News Options’.
For example, you can choose what happens when you click on a story from the ‘News’ menu from the following three:
1. Go directly to the story.
2. Go to the story with the voting frame.
3. Go to the page for that story.
The Netscape News Sidebar
In addition to popular stories being available through clicking ‘News’ in the menu bar, the same content is also accessible through a sidebar. Channels appear at the top level and stories are accessible through a drop-down menu.
###Other Features
In addition to all these features that are directly (or indirectly) linked to the social news portal, the Netscape Navigator 9.0 browser is full of other features and enhancements that improve the general web-browsing experience.
The Link Pad Sidebar
If you’re like me, then you probably use bookmarks to save pages that you refer to over and over again, i.e., ones that provide you with long-term value. And precisely because of that, it’s not only annoying when you have to save a page that you will need to access in a day or two but not after that, but it also clutters up the rest of your bookmarks. After a while of being frustrated with my bookmarks routinely getting cluttered, I started saving temporary links in a textedit document, easily accessible from my Dock.
To address similar issues, the Netscape browser has created the Link Pad. Its part textedit document and part bookmarks folder, but it resides in a sidebar and doesn’t save links for the long term. To add links, just drag them to the link pad sidebar. The next time you access a link from the sidebar, it will automatically disappear.
URL Correction
The Netscape browser now comes with built in URL correction functionality that corrects the most common typing errors and automatically takes you to the page you were trying to reach. While this is a much welcomed feature, and it does work a lot of the time, it there were quite a few typing errors that it wasn’t able to catch. Perhaps the ability to report typing errors and link them to the page a user was trying to reach, will help Netscape make this feature truly useful in the long run.
Mini Browser
One of the most interesting, innovative, and useful ‘non-social’ features in my mind, is the ‘mini browser’. The mini browser essentially uses the browsers sidebar functionality to let a user open two different web sites within one window, without the use of tabs, and with the ability to view both sites at the same time. In addition to opening a link in a new tab and a new window, you can now choose to open links in a new tab within the sidebar based mini browser.
Final Thoughts
Because the browser is based on the latest Mozilla technologies, not only are you getting the ease of use, extensive library of extensions, and security of Firefox, but you also get real-time integration with the social news portal. The browser’s design is intuitive and above all it is functional. Let me be the first to say, the most social browser on the planet has landed.
**Disclaimer: I am a Netscape Scout.

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