RealTime IT News

Netscape Debuts Communicator 4.5 Beta

Netscape Communications today released the first public beta of its Communicator 4.5 browser client suite, probably the last release to be developed in house by Netscape, with later versions slated to be unveiled by Mozilla.org this fall.

Users can download either the standalone version, containing the Navigator Web browser, or the full version, which comes with the Navigator browser, Messenger news reader, Composer Web page editor, AOL Instant Messenger, Netscape Calendar scheduler, Palm Pilot Synchronization (Windows only), and multimedia plug-ins.

Enhancements in this release of Communicator include Smart Browsing, "high performance" Internet e-mail, and Roaming Access support for mobile users.

Smart Browsing enables users to locate information on the Internet quickly and easily by integrating Netscape Navigator 4.5 with the services that are available on the Netscape Netcenter portal site.

Netscape's Messenger has been enhanced for this release with a three-pane user interface, fast Pinpoint Addressing, import utilities for importing address books from other e-mail clients, support for Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) standards, and offline synchronization that allows users to read and respond to email while they are offline.

Roaming Access, a new Netcenter service that's also tightly integrated with Netscape Communicator 4.5, provides users with the ability to access their own personal information, such as address books, bookmarks, and e-mail from any location on the Internet using their Web browser.

Netscape is attempting to provide members of Netcenter with a personal experience regardless of their physical location. Communicator 4.5 also includes new PalmPilot synchronization features which enable users to access Communicator information while they are on the road.

Smart Addressing, another new feature, enables Netcenter members to find information about other members by searching the Netcenter Member Directory using their own Communicator address book. This same feature is available when users are composing an e-mail message.

While most in the industry are optimistic about the release, some, such as Dave Garaffa of Internet.com's Browserwatch, are informing readers to be cautious about installing beta software. "If you are not comfortable working with software that has known and unknown bugs that could cause problems with your system, please refrain from downloading the software," said Garaffa.

For additional information about Netscape Communicator 4.5, visit Netscape Netcenter.