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  Comparison  
     
Web Browsers
 
 
           
   
 
 
   
 
The current scoring system algorithm is exponential.
    Administration  
    Some primary features of concern to administrators implementing a standard browser in their environment.  
    Factor: Standard  
    Product Name Internet Explorer
5.5
Netscape Communicator
4.73
 
    Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation Sun-Netscape Alliance  
      Group Score:
237 out of 310
Total Score:
1002 out of 1460
  Group Score:
196 out of 310
Total Score:
819 out of 1460
 
    Cache Adjustability  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
12


  Weighted Score:
16


 
      The size is set by megabyte increments and can have a maximum size setting.   Cache size is adjustable in megabyte increments for both RAM and disk caches. The choice of a storage folder is user definable.  
    Cache Currency  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
32


  Weighted Score:
24


 
      Cache refreshing can be set for every page visit, by browser session, never, or as an automatic selection.   Cache updating frequency is adjustable for every page visit, every browser session, or never.  
    Installation  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
12


  Weighted Score:
12


 
      Requires 70-111 MB of free hard disk space for installation. Generally a version of IE comes pre-installed with the various Windows operating systems. Microsoft has a downloadable installation program available from their website. The program allows one to select specific IE components and related Microsoft applications for installation. Once all components have been selected, the program initiates the download and installation process. This process works through an easy, wizard form. The wizard however, adds a layer of inconvenience to a process that could be accomplished by filling out a simple html form at the beginning.   The entire Communicator package and components are available as free downloads from Netscape. In a regular installation, components can be deselected from the installation. The smart download is useful for retrieving only specific components. Communicator components include Navigator, Messenger, Composer, AOL Instant Messenger, email and address book import utilities, Flash plugin, and Headspace beatnik. The Communicator file itself is close to 20 MB depending on the component selections. Complete install is 44 MB, Navigator only, is 10 MB. Netscape provides software to customize the browser for specific installation purposes.  
    Interface  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
16


  Weighted Score:
12


 
      The graphical user interface installs with common, basic, icons on the toolbar. These include forward, backward, and stop buttons. There are menus for different settings and features, as well as a full-screen-mode feature. The full-screen browsing feature isn't truly full-screen, as the browser retains a location box.   The graphical interface includes common icons on a toolbar, for example: forward, backward, reload, and home. Drop-down windows are at the screen-top for menu selections and a URL entry box.  
    Product Positioning  
    Weight: 1   Weighted Score:
1


  Weighted Score:
1


 
      "The newest version of Internet Explorer, has benefits for consumers and developers alike. You'll enjoy the ability to preview Web pages exactly as they'll appear when printed with the new Print Preview, and with improved support for DHTML and CSS, Web architects will appreciate the greater control over browser appearance and behavior. It's never been easier to get online, find the information you need, and just do stuff faster."   "Communicator offers the complete set of tools for browsing dynamic web content, plus full-strength email. The result of our ongoing commitment to quality releases of Netscape software, offering fixes to reported problems and updated third party components."  
    Proxy Configuration  
    Weight: 5   Weighted Score:
64


  Weighted Score:
64


 
      Includes settings to auto-detect proxy configurations. Users can manually set the proxy server's IP and port for all protocols or just specific protocols. One can set the server not to proxy for local addresses or other explicitely defined URLs.   Configurable by IP address and port for each protocol (HTTP, FTP, SOCKS, Gopher, WAIS). One can include exceptions by domain name. Supports auto-proxy configuration.  
    Scripting Control  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
40


  Weighted Score:
16


 
      Includes on/off toggles for ActiveX and Javascript scripting. These can be set to prompt the user when such scripts come up. The browser has advanced options for script notification, toggling, and debugging.   Navigator includes an on and off toggle for Javascript.  
    Self Update  
    Weight: 1   Weighted Score:
4


  Weighted Score:
3


 
      Self-updates are available through Microsoft's Windows Update feature (in the Internet Explorer menu bar). This allows installation of patches, upgrades, and other windows related items. Internet Explorer can be set to automatically check for updates to itself.   Self-updates are available through Netscape's SmartUpdate feature. This feature supports the download and installation of Netscape upgrades and related applications.  
    Style Control  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
32


  Weighted Score:
16


 
      Allows users to selectively choose fonts, colors, or create a custom style sheet to use with all websites. Users cannot, however, simply turn off style sheets.   Does not allow any specialized CSS controls. One can enable or disable CSS. Additionally, fonts and colors are customizable through the browser's preference settings.  
    Technical Support  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
24


  Weighted Score:
32


 
      Microsoft offers ninety days phone-in tech support with the purchase of their $6.95 CDROM. Additionally, there is an online searchable help database. The browser itself comes with extensive help, indexed by subject and searchable by keyword.   The software comes with an indexed table of contents for help items as well as links to Netscape's site. Netscape makes newsgroups available for additional free support. They offer a live phone support service for $29.00 per incident.  
 

    Features  
    The notable elements that comprise the entire product. These concern the everyday functionality of the browser. A user will regularly deal with items like bookmarking and plug-ins.  
    Factor: Standard  
    Product Name Internet Explorer
5.5
Netscape Communicator
4.73
 
    Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation Sun-Netscape Alliance  
      Group Score:
261 out of 370
Total Score:
1002 out of 1460
  Group Score:
243 out of 370
Total Score:
819 out of 1460
 
    Bookmarking  
    Weight: 5   Weighted Score:
48


  Weighted Score:
64


 
      Users can save URLs through the browser's "Favorites" menu. This menu includes the option to either add or organize the links a user saves. IE also adds these to the Favorites section of the Windows "Start" menu. The process for adding a site to the Favorites list takes several steps that could potentially be combined for an easier process.   Communicator includes a very convenient bookmark feature for URL additions in a structured list. A user can easily add locations to the list by clicking on specific folders. The user can also edit the list as a whole. The browser will import bookmarks from other browsers but does not integrate with the windows Favorites folder, instead it stores bookmarks in an HTML formatted file.  
    Cookie Support  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
24


  Weighted Score:
24


 
      The browser supports cookies and has a method to handle them on a session by session basis or stored on the hard drive.   Netscape stores cookies in the user directory. It has a cookie notification toggle as well.  
    History of URLs  
    Weight: 2   Weighted Score:
6


  Weighted Score:
6


 
      Internet Explorer provides a dropdown window listing recently visited URLs. This list is used to auto-complete addresses entered in the address entry box. Users can easily set the number of days to keep links in the history. The browser includes a button to manually clear this history.   URLs can be stored for a set period of time (in days) they appear in the "Location Bar." There are buttons to easily clear the location bar historical listing.  
    Image Auto-load  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
16


  Weighted Score:
12


 
      The image auto-load feature can be toggled on or off. There is also an option for showing picture placeholders while a page is loading.   The image auto-load feature can be toggled from the browser's preferences. It will selectively load images when the user clicks an icon.  
    Image Map Support  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
12


  Weighted Score:
12


 
      Internet Explorer supports client-side image maps.   Yes, the Navigator component correctly displays client-side image maps.  
    Integrated Search  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
20


  Weighted Score:
12


 
      There is a search icon that opens a side panel of results in the browser. This can be customized to display results in the user's preferred order of search engines/portals. This window also shows a related links section. Users can also initiate searches by prefacing a query with a question mark or "Go." The browser's search assistant can be set to specify types of information to retrieve. For example, one can search for addresses, maps, or newsgroups. Within pages, one can search for text using the "Find" feature.   There is a search button that goes to Netscape's net search page. Users can also type a string in the location bar and Navigator will display search results. The browser includes a "Find" feature for locating text within a page.  
    Java  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
32


  Weighted Score:
32


 
      The browser supports Java through Microsoft's Virtual Machine and JIT compiler.   Communicator includes Sun's JRE 1.3 and Symantec's JIT compiler.  
    Multimedia Presentation  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
40


  Weighted Score:
24


 
      Internet Explorer supports the major multimedia formats, including flash, midi, wav audio, real player formats, shockwave, and quicktime files. The standard browser installation comes with the Windows Media Player, which will support many multimedia formats. There are individual toggles to switch off these audio, video, animations, and movie formats.   Communicator includes many plugins to support different multimedia formats. Standard plugins support flash, liveaudio, midi, shockwave, real player formats. Supports other plugins such as Apple's Quicktime.  
    Offline Browsing  
    Weight: 1   Weighted Score:
5


  Weighted Score:
2


 
      Users can manually synchronize caching of sites up to three levels deep or set the sites to be cached on a schedule for offline browsing.   Users can browse anything in the cache while offline. The browser has an online/offline toggle.  
    Plugin Support  
    Weight: 5   Weighted Score:
48


  Weighted Score:
48


 
      The browser can detect whether a page requires an additional application or plugin to properly present its contents.   Navigator supports third party plugins. On encountering a page that requires a plugin not currently installed, the browser will open a support page to install the plugin.  
    Source Code Viewer  
    Weight: 1   Weighted Score:
2


  Weighted Score:
3


 
      There is an option in the "View" menu to view page sources. Users can also right-click on a page to get this option. Either action displays a page's source code in the Windows Notepad.   Navigator supports viewing the source of any page by right-clicking or choosing from the "View" menu. The view window doesn't allow editing.  
    Toolbar Customizability  
    Weight: 2   Weighted Score:
8


  Weighted Score:
4


 
      Users can add or remove entire toolbars. Toolbars can also be customized by adding or deleting buttons. Buttons can be selected in large or small sizes, or without accompanying text.   The browser does not provide an easy means for customizating the toolbar. The code however, is open source and Netscape offers an administrative package specifically for customizing the browser. Toolbars can be hidden by users and the personal toolbar folder can easily hold links to bookmarks, folders, or applications.  
 

    Security  
    Security criteria may include but are not limited to, standards such as SSL and SET, protection of administrative interfaces, user and administrator access, key management (PKI), encryption, authentication, firewalls, virus protection, and other various security tools and features.  
    Factor: Standard  
    Product Name Internet Explorer
5.5
Netscape Communicator
4.73
 
    Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation Sun-Netscape Alliance  
      Group Score:
214 out of 300
Total Score:
1002 out of 1460
  Group Score:
156 out of 300
Total Score:
819 out of 1460
 
    Active X Custom Access  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
12


  Weighted Score:
0


 
      Internet Explorer includes options to enable, disable, or prompt for downloading signed and unsigned controls, scripts, and plugins. There is an administrative approval option for running the controls and plugins.   The browser does not natively provide any special security features for ActiveX scripts.  
    Certificate Features  
    Weight: 5   Weighted Score:
64


  Weighted Score:
48


 
      Internet Explorer provides a set-by-step wizard for importing and exporting personal certificates. The user can specify a lot of advanced settings including the following purposes for the certificate: server authentication, client authentication, code signing, email security, time stamping, trust list signing, IP security, file system encryption, hardware driver verification, and Windows system component verification. The user can also set the browser to check for publisher and server certificate revocation.   The browser uses straight forward forms to import and export certificates. Similar forms provide a means for specifying whether to sign and encrypt mail or news messages. The certificate features section is in four parts: yours, people, websites, and senders. These allow one to view a certificate and verify it against an authority.  
    Cookie Acceptability  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
24


  Weighted Score:
24


 
      The browser provides three options (disable, enable, or prompt) for storing cookies on the hard drive or allowing them to be used in a session without staying on the hard drive.   The browser can be set to accept all cookies, only those sent back to the originating server, disable all, or prompt before accepting a cookie.  
    Encryption and Protocols  
    Weight: 5   Weighted Score:
48


  Weighted Score:
48


 
      The browser supports SSL v2 & 3 and TLS 1.0. It also supports 128 bit encryption for the US and most other countries.   The browser supports SSL v2 & 3 and TLS 1.0. 128 bit encryptionis available for US and most other countries.  
    Encrypted Page Caching Toggle  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
16


  Weighted Score:
0


 
      The browser can be set to cache or not cache pages that were transmitted encrypted. The user can also set the browser to empty its cache after every session.   Navigator does not cache encrypted pages, so there's no need for options to prevent them from being cached.  
    Java Custom Access  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
16


  Weighted Score:
12


 
      Internet Explorer provides extensive customization features for acceptable application or applet behaviors. It includes view and edit permissions for both, signed and unsigned content. Users can enable, disable, or set up a prompting feature for scripts.   Java access can be toggled on or off. Navigator allows for granting or revoking applet access permissions. The browser has a sparse amount of additional controls for customizing the type of access applets are allowed to have.  
    Javascript/ECMAscript Custom Access  
    Weight: 2   Weighted Score:
8


  Weighted Score:
6


 
      The browser provides extensive customization features for acceptable behaviors. It includes view and edit permissions for both, signed and unsigned content. Users can enable, disable, or set up a prompting feature for scripts. The browser includes a toggle for error messages.   Similar to the controls for Java, the browser includes an on/off toggle for Javascripts (conforming to ECMAscript standards) and granting or revoking access permissions. There are separate toggles for the browser and Messenger application.  
    Predefined Certificate Authorities  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
20


  Weighted Score:
12


 
      The browser lists 100-120 CAs. Authorities are easily added through a step-by-step wizard. Each authority can have custom usage settings.   Navigator includes over fifty-three CAs.  
    Secure and Unsecure Mode Warning  
    Weight: 2   Weighted Score:
6


  Weighted Score:
6


 
      Users can choose whether to be prompted on entering and leaving secure pages or on submitting forms. The browser also displays a lock icon to indicate secure locations.   A popup window warns when the user the changes between secure and insecure locations. The browser also displays a lock icon to signify the security status.  
 

    Standards Compliance  
    Industry standards to which the product adheres. Browsers should, at a minimum, support basic industry standards. In some cases, browsers support additional non-standard items. The focus of the criteria in this group is on meeting the standards.  
    Factor: Standard  
    Product Name Internet Explorer
5.5
Netscape Communicator
4.73
 
    Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation Sun-Netscape Alliance  
      Group Score:
250 out of 380
Total Score:
1002 out of 1460
  Group Score:
188 out of 380
Total Score:
819 out of 1460
 
    CSS Support  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
24


  Weighted Score:
8


 
      According to the W3C, only the Macintosh version supports the entire CSS1 specification. On other platforms CSS is mostly supported. The browser supports some CSS2 as well.   Navigator supports CSS1 but the Netscape implementation of the specification does not present everything correctly.  
    Display Character Encoding  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
12


  Weighted Score:
12


 
      Internet Explorer supports thirty character sets, along with unicode and user-defined or auto-select options.   Navigator supports ten character sets their accompanying dialects, a user defined option, and Unicode support.  
    FTP Support  
    Weight: 2   Weighted Score:
8


  Weighted Score:
6


 
      Internet Explorer supports transferring files with the File Transfer Protocol in the browser window. It supports anonymous or logged-in connections. The browser uses regular Microsoft file manipulation conventions (similar to the Windows Explorer).   The browser can upload and download files using anonymous FTP. The browser does not provide a login option.  
    Graphic Standards  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
24


  Weighted Score:
24


 
      Internet Explorer supports GIF, JPEG, and PNG.   Navigator supports GIF, JPEG, and PNG.  
    HTML Versions Supported  
    Weight: 5   Weighted Score:
48


  Weighted Score:
48


 
      Internet Explorer supports version 4.0   Navigator supports version 4.0  
    HTTP Versions  
    Weight: 5   Weighted Score:
64


  Weighted Score:
48


 
      Internet Explorer supports HTTP versions 1.1 and 1.0. It can toggle between these versions in case a proxy connection is problematic.   Navigator supports HTTP v1.1  
    Languages  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
32


  Weighted Score:
24


 
      The browser supports over seventy different languages and their related dialects.   The browser supports fifty-seven language selections with many common variations.  
    LDAP  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
8


  Weighted Score:
12


 
      When the browser is installed with the Outlook Express application accompanying it, this component will support LDAP for address and informational lookups.   The browser can connect to an LDAP directory server to retrieve user profiles/settings (and for email address lookups).  
    MIME Customization  
    Weight: 2   Weighted Score:
6


  Weighted Score:
6


 
      MIME types are editable through the standard Windows File Types menu in the Folder/Options tool. This tool appears on the menu when a user puts IE in Windows Explorer mode.   The user can add and edit MIME types through the browser's preferences window.  
    XML Support  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
24


  Weighted Score:
0


 
      Internet Explorer supports the W3C's XML 1.0 recommendation.   Navigator does not currently have support for XML structured pages though this will appear in future releases.  
 

    Web Browser - Extended Options  
    Extra features or components that while likely to complement the web browser, are not important to its core functionality. These criteria address features like support for sending email or accessing newsgroups.  
    Factor: Standard  
    Product Name Internet Explorer
5.5
Netscape Communicator
4.73
 
    Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation Sun-Netscape Alliance  
      Group Score:
40 out of 100
Total Score:
1002 out of 1460
  Group Score:
36 out of 100
Total Score:
819 out of 1460
 
    Address Book/Contact List  
    Weight: 3   Weighted Score:
8


  Weighted Score:
12


 
      The address book isn't a part of the browser itself. Users can get the browser bundled with Microsoft Outlook Express, which includes an address book.   Communicator comes bundled with a detailed address book that can store personal addresses or look up addresses from and LDAP server. The address book, while part of the Communicator package, is not technically part of the browser.  
    Calendar Support  
    Weight: 2   Weighted Score:
2


  Weighted Score:
0


 
      The browser does not include a free calendaring option. Internet Explorer does have a setting to choose the calendar program to use alongside the broswer.   The latest version of Communicator no longer includes a calendar connection.  
    Email Support  
    Weight: 4   Weighted Score:
16


  Weighted Score:
8


 
      Any email application can be specified for use with the browser. Outlook Express comes bundled with the browser in the default configuration.   In the Communicator package, Navigator can be used with the bundled email application, Messenger, or connected to a different email application.  
    HTML Editor  
    Weight: 2   Weighted Score:
6


  Weighted Score:
6


 
      Users can get the browser bundled with Frontpage Express. Otherwise the browser can be set to use notepad or other editor for creating HTML code.   Communicator includes the Netscape Composer application for editing HTML. The browser allows for specifying a different companion HTML editor.  
    Newsgroup Support  
    Weight: 2   Weighted Score:
4


  Weighted Score:
6


 
      Any newsreader application can be specified for use with the browser. Outlook Express comes bundled with the browser in the default configuration.   The Messenger component handles all newsgroups inline with the email folders.  
    Synchronization  
    Weight: 2   Weighted Score:
4


  Weighted Score:
4


 
      Web pages and locations can be synchronized for offline viewing. Outlook Express includes import and export options for sending its data to a delimited text file.   Users can synchronize address book information with the Palm Pilot.  
 

  2000 Intraware, Inc.