The battle for leadership in the Web browser market has essentially come down to a duel. In an exhaustive comparative analysis of the latest releases of browsers from fierce competitors Netscape and Microsoft, the editors of PC Magazine say that the true winner of the browser war is the user who can uses both Netscape Navigator 3.0 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0. The editors add, "but if you're limited to one browser, Netscape Navigator 3.0 is still the best choice."
"In our last feature on browsers, just last Spring, we reviewed 30 products. Now only two seem to matter," says Michael J. Miller, Editor-in- Chief. "While both are good and the choice may seem trivial, it has enormous implications because the company that dominates the browser market will dictate the future direction of the Web. Fortunately, as Netscape and Microsoft battle to deliver the fastest, richest, most stable and most compatible browser, its the users who reap the benefits and who are the ultimate winner."
To help legions of Web users choose the best product for their needs, the two browsers were evaluated according to the perspectives of the end-user, the Webmaster and the application developer. PC Magazine tested performance, analyzed collaboration tools, and compared the pairs' mail and news features. Despite the fact that Internet Explorer came out ahead in many of these comparisons and was cited as a technically superior product in many ways, the winner of PC Magazine Editor's Choice Award was given to Netscape Navigator 3.0 for its broader compatibility.
The full results of the comparative are published in the cover story in the October 22 issue, as well as online at www.pcmag.com, where the editors of PC Magazine and representatives of Microsoft and Netscape answer questions about the current and future state of browsers.
Following is a summary of some of the testing results:
For end-users, Explorer gets an "excellent" for navigation while Navigator is rated "good." For low band support for browsing over slow connections, Navigator is "excellent" while Explorer is "fair."
For Webmastering, most of the top ratings went to Explorer including excellent ratings in basic HTML, typography, graphics and multimedia, page layout, frames support, and forms. PC Magazine found that
Explorer, not Navigator, now leads in implementing the most interesting and significant HTML -- and capabilities Webmaster will use to build the next generation of cutting-edge sites.
Performance tests found that overall, Navigator was faster than Explorer in both loading pages and reloading pages from the browser's cache, although the speed differences may not always be evident to the end-user.
Mail and News capabilities for both browsers got mixed reviews from PC Magazine. "Neither company's offerings will take the place of the full-featured Internet Mail and News applications," the editors state. Although the applications were well integrated, PC Magazine rated
Netscape's message management poor and Explorer's only fair.
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