Netscape has begun testing a ‘prototype’ of a new Web browser based on Firefox, but capable of switching to Internet Explorer’s rendering engine.
Unlike previous Netscape versions, this is a standalone browser - no email client, composer or chat. In fact, it is almost two browsers in one. In its standard mode it is based on Firefox 0.9.3 and uses Mozilla’s Gecko rendering engine. However, by accessing the new Site Controls menu - the browser can switch to Microsoft’s Trident rendering engine.
This has two advantages. It lets you view websites that have been coded for IE as they were intended - though you could say this will just encourage bad coding - and changes the user agent to IE, which could help when accessing secure sites, such as online banks, that refuse to recognise any other browser.
The Mozilla Organisation is less than impressed: ‘They may as well have said, “That’s it, we surrender”.’ Its reviewer has given the prototype a thorough examination and concludes: ‘Netscape have taken the lean and mean Firefox and created a browser that’s… just not as good.’
Netscape’s owner AOL secured a seven-year licence to use the IE rendering engine in May, when it cut a deal with Microsoft to settle antitrust litigation. Until now the browser has been based exclusively on Gecko.
The new browser is expected to be released in 2005