February 9, 1998
The battle of the Internet software giants continues, but not in the way I would have predicted. Zip on over to Netscape’s home page (http://home.netscape.com/) and you’ll find a corporate posture ready to whup-up on big daddy Microsoft. “Welcome to the Netscape Software Download and Customer Choice page, where you can download the latest version of Netscape Communicator, learn how to uninstall Internet Explorer, and select Communicator as your default Internet browser.” Other than your personal preferences there is a problem with this software confrontation. The sheer size of today’s browsers seems to be getting out of hand.
The newest version of Netscape Communicator is called 4.04. It weighs in at a whopping 9.2 MB. Bare minimum download time under ideal conditions on a 28.8 Kbps modem is 60 minutes. In the real world it could very well take two-and-a-half hours! Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 4.01 is a fat pig compared to Netscape. Just the browser is pegged at 13 MB, but add the full package and be prepared for a hard drive suffocating 25 MB! That means you could start downloading Internet Explorer 4.01, go see the new film Titanic, have dinner, see Titanic again and still wait for the program to finish churning through your phone line.
Is bigger better? I don’t think so. I replaced my original Netscape with Netscape Gold last year and although it operates at an acceptable speed, it loads and runs slower. A few months ago I downloaded the first version of Netscape Communicator. It brought slow to an unacceptable level, although I must admit it is prettier. To be honest, I can’t bring myself to spend six hours loading Mircrosoft’s new I.E., but a co-worker of mine who did warned me that it’s slower than previous versions. There are a few alternatives – but available space for this column demands I discuss them with you next week! O.K., if you just can’t wait, look at http://opera.nta.no.