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Year 2001 in Review -- Mozilla and Netscape Browsers

Mike Angelo -- 31 December 2001 (c)

Page 2


Article Index

Mozilla and Netscape 6 Delays

Mozilla and Netscape 6 Bugs

Mozilla and Netscape Turmoil and Problems

Mozilla and Netscape 6 Browser Improvements

Summary and Conclusion

Resources

Mozilla and Netscape 6 Browser Improvements

The year 2001 has seen lots of negatives for Mozilla and Netscape 6. However, there are positives too

Netscape 6.1, released in June 2001 was a significant improvement over its predecessors, Netscape 6.0 released in November 2000 and Netscape 6.01 released in February 2001. Then Netscape 6.2, released in October 2001, further improved Netscape 6.

Fortunately for AOL's Netscape division, Netscape 6.1 was enough of an improvement over its predecessors that it might have started a small turn-around in user and computer press views of the Netscape 6 series. At least Netscape 6.1 did not receive the sorts of thorough bashings that Netscape 6.0 had received.

October 2001's Netscape 6.2 product is significantly better than Netscape 6.1 and a marked improvement over Netscape 6.0. There has been a positive user response to it and it has even received some praise from the computer trade press. See for example Netscape 6.2: This one works, by NewsForge's Robin "Roblimo" Miller (Link in Resources section at end of article.)

Likewise, Mozilla 0.9.7 released earlier this month is much improved since Mozilla 0.7 which was released in January 2001. Many of the more noticeable and more annoying bugs have been fixed. Nevertheless, there are lots more bugs in Mozilla now then there were then.

Performance is better too. For example, going in to the year 2001, the Mozilla browser-suite was a notorious memory hog, fraught with memory leaks, and did a lousy job of handling memory -- particularly on the Windows platform.

The most recent Mozilla milestone release, 0.9.7, does a much better job of handling memory -- at least with Windows 2000, which is what we have used to test Mozilla 0.9.7 so far. Although Mozilla 0.9.7 still takes lots of Windows memory, it does not seem to be leaking memory -- at least not that we noticed. When Mozilla 0.9.7 was closed, it appeared to have released all the memory it had sucked up while running.

Here is a chronological list of some nice changes, improvements, and features that made their appearances in the Mozilla browser suite during 2001. This is far from a complete list -- just some highlights that caught our attention. Of course most of these items made their way into the Netscape 6 browser suite, or will eventually make their way there, too. Unfortunately, Netscape does not include Mozilla's ChatZilla IRC client.

  • Mozilla 0.8.1 -- 26 March 2001
    • Hierarchical history
    • Some support for Gopher. However, not all gopher features are supported
    • A new ChatZilla, chat-client face
  • Mozilla 0.9 -- 7 May 2001
    • Image library rewrite
    • Level-1 cache rewrite
    • Addition of Gopher search capability in the new Mozilla Gopher support, which was added in Milestone 0.8.1.
  • Mozilla 0.9.1 -- 7 June 2001
    • Overhaul of the Mozilla Modern skin including new widgets and icons plus a warmer and friendlier tone
    • Level-2 cache rewrite
  • Mozilla 0.9.2 -- 29 June 2001
    • Introduction of the controversial Turbo Mode (called QuickLanch in Netscape) that loads Mozilla on system boot.
  • Mozilla 0.9.5 -- 12 October 2001
    • Tabbed Browsing feature clone of MultiZilla that lets you open several different Web pages in the same browser window and then select a tab to display a selected Web Page.
  • Mozilla 0.9.6 -- 20 November 2001
    • Favicons (shortcut icons)
    • Print preview
    • Mail message labels
  • Mozilla 0.9.7 -- 21 December 2001
    • A new ChatZilla release (8.5)
    • Further implementation of favicons (shortcut icons)
    • Further implementation of mail message labels

If you want to dig into the milestone releases and what was new and improved in them, please check our Mozilla Articles Index. There is at least one article for every year 2001 Mozilla milestone release there. For more information about the 2001 Netscape releases, please see our Netscape Articles Index.

Summary and Conclusion

The year 2001 news for Mozilla and Netscape has been an interesting and often controversial mix of good news and bad news. Overall, the Mozilla and Netscape 6 browsers are better now than they were a year ago.

That certainly is helping Mozilla and Netscape to hang onto its users and market share -- and perhaps even regain some. For example, SuSE included Netscape 6.1 in its latest Linux distribution, SuSE Linux 7.3.

At this time last year we reported that more MozillaQuest Magazine traffic was from Netscape 4.x browsers than from Netscape 6 browsers. Our server logs showed 56 % of Netscape browsers hits came from Netscape 4.x browsers while only 41% of Netscape browsers hits came from Netscape 5.x browsers. (The Netscape 6 and Mozilla browsers show up as Netscape 5.x in our server log analyses.)

That trend now has reversed. More hits now are coming from Netscape 5.x browsers than from Netscape 4.x browsers. So far, our December 2001 Web server logs show about 80% of Netscape browser hits coming from Netscape 5.x compared to about 20% coming from Netscape 4.x.

However, Mozilla and Netscape bugs are out of control. They started to run egregiously out of control just before the beginning of year 2001 and that trend has continued throughout 2001. Of course lots of bugs have been fixed -- particularly the more noticeable and annoying bugs. Thus the Mozilla and Netscape browsers do not seem to be as buggy as they really are. But there are thousands of bugs more now than there were a year ago.

Perhaps even more significant and devastating for Mozilla, and therefore for Netscape too, is the failure of the Mozilla Organization to deliver Mozilla 1.0 during year 2001. Every day that goes by in which there is no finished, polished, features-complete Mozilla 1.0 or Netscape 6.5, or better, is a day that Netscape and Mozilla lose users and lose market share.

In October 2001, the Mozilla Organization's chief technical lizard, Brendan Eich, tried to get Mozilla back on track when he renamed his Mozilla 1.0 Definition to Mozilla 1.0 Manifesto.That development plan revision appeared to be an effort and attempt to regain focus and thereby to bring Mozilla's escalating bug problems and 1.0 schedule slippage under control.

Inter alia, Eich's Manifesto called for a feature freeze and a focused effort to get the Mozilla bug problem under control. That's a good project management move.

However, a feature freeze and focusing on bug squashing, improved stability, and better performance in order to get Mozilla 1.0 out the door already had been the plan since at least July 2000, which is when Mozilla Milestone 16 was released.

The Mozilla developers did not fully follow Eich's previous plan to focus on bug squashing, improving stability, and improving performance as set forth in his Mozilla 1.0 Definition. That is why there was no Mozilla 1.0 for year 2001.

Will renaming the development plan to Mozilla 1.0 Manifesto and updating the nitty-gritty in it result in a less buggy, polished, feature-complete, and finished Mozilla 1.0 in April 2002 as scheduled? That remains to be seen.

The Mozilla browser-suite is a darn nice, albeit unfinished and in-the-rough, product. Its developers need to regain focus and finish the darn thing. When the Mozilla developers do that, then Netscape 6 will be a darn nice browser-suite too.

(Back to Page 1.)


Related Articles


Learning from Mozilla's mistakes By Robin "Roblimo" Miller on NewsForge.com

Netscape 6.2: This one works By Robin "Roblimo" Miller on NewsForge.com


Mozilla Roadmap Update: Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to April 2002



AOL 7.0: Good News for AOL Users & Microsoft - Bad News for Netscape & Mozilla


Netscape Communicator 4.79 Browser-Suite Released

Netscape 6.2 Browser Source Code (Mozilla 0.9.4.1) Released

Netscape 6.2 Browser-Suite Released

Netscape 6.2 Browser-Suite Coming Soon?

Netscape 6.1 Browser-Suite Released, Again?


Mozilla 0.9.x Releases & Download Links


Mozilla Milestone 0.9.7 Browser-Suite Released

Mozilla Milestone 0.9.6 Browser-Suite Released

Mozilla Milestone 0.9.5 Browser-Suite Released


Mozilla Milestone 0.9.4 Browser-Suite Released

Mozilla Milestone 0.9.3 Browser-Suite Released

Mozilla 0.9.2.1 AKA Netscape 6.1 Browser Source Code Released


Mozilla 0.9.3 Branched Behind Schedule & Buggy

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The Snail Moves: Mozilla Milestone 0.9 Browser-Suite Released


Mozilla Roadmap

More Mozilla Roadmap Plan Changes and Chaos - Mozilla 0.9.2 Set for 25 June Release (June Roadmap revisions)

Mozilla Roadmap Plan Changed Again -- Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to Q4 2001 (May Roadmap revisions)

More Mozilla Roadmap & Development Plan Changes: Mozilla 1.0 Pushed Back to Q3 2001 (April Roadmap revisions)

Mozilla 1.0 Release Pushed Back -- Milestone 0.8.1 Inserted into Development Roadmap Schedule (March Roadmap revisions)

Mozilla Organization Revises Development Roadmap and Product Release Schedule (December Roadmap revisions)


Mozilla 0.8.x Releases & Download Links

Lizard On The Move: Mozilla Milestone 0.8.1 Browser-Suite Released

The Lizard Marches On: Mozilla Milestone 0.8 Browser-Suite Released

Mozilla Milestone 0.8 Browser-Suite RPM Builds Released


Other Related Mozilla & Netsape Articles

Composer: The Netscape & Mozilla Graphical HTML Editor & Word Processor

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MozillaQuest the Series: Building Your Own Mozilla-Based Web Browser

Meet Bugzilla -- Mozilla's Secretary of Bug-Busting & Feature Requests Lizard


For more information about the Mozilla Organization, the Mozilla applications programming framework, and the Mozilla browser, please see:

Please do not forget to report bugs, problems, or suggestions for enhancements to Bugzilla.

For more information about the Mozilla Roadmap & Milestone Plan, please see:

Mozilla Development Roadmap

Help Using The Bugzilla Query Form


Copyright 2000, 2001 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved


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