The Andrew Turnbull Mozilla Network

A Visual Browser History, from Netscape 4 to Mozilla Firefox

Part 2: Milestone 18 to Mozilla 0.9.9 and Netscape 6.x (2000-02)

[Mozilla Milestone 18 screenshot] Even though major feature work in preparation for Mozilla 1.0 (and presumably Netscape 6.x) may have ceased by the time Milestone 18 was released in October 2000, major changes continued to be implemented in matters such as visual appearance.

First and foremost, after a trend of increasingly bizarre UIs, Mozilla now defaulted to the more traditional Netscape 4.x-like "classic" visual style introduced in M17 that obeyed system colors and conventions.

A thoroughly redesigned and metallic "Modern" theme was included as a selectable option as well. Aside from the drastic visual changes, a "Print" option was added to the toolbar; performance, stability, and Java support were improved, and an element of toolbar customization was implemented.
[Netscape 6.0 Preview Release 3 screenshot] Such changes were also noted in Netscape 6.0 PR3, the third and final preview before the "final" Netscape 6.0 browser was rushed out the door.

Interestingly, 6.0 PR3 and all subsequent Netscape versions defaulted to the unusual "Modern" look instead of the more conventional "Classic" appearance used by Mozilla; nevertheless, all applicable Netscape 6.x and 7.x releases have been shown here using the "classic" theme for considerations of consistency plus the fact that I find it more usable.

A drop list to the left of the location field (invisible on the "classic" theme) reveals a list of proprietary features such as the ability to "get a stock quote." The number of menus on the Taskbar was also reduced to four titled "Business," "Tech," "Fun," and "Interact," and the Netscape SmartUpdate tool ubiquitous in Communicator 4.x reappeared around this time as well.
[Netscape 6.0 and preview release splash screens] This is a montage of splash screens used for Netscape 6.0 (lower right) and its three preview releases, showing the clever gimmick of a binocular field of vision increasing with every subsequent release.
[Netscape 6.0 screenshot] Ah, Netscape 6. What can you say?

This piece of software was released on November 14, 2000, and to many users it was their first taste of the complex post-4.x browser development that had been going on since 1998.

Although charitably an improvement over Netscape 4.x in some ways, it's fair to say that the new code was not quite ready yet for general consumption: It was quite slow on anything less powerful than a high-end Pentium; page rendering for all but the most meticulously coded sites was poor; some reported it being difficult to remove, and it crashed often.

Compared to the final preview release, changes were minimal: The build number was omitted from the title bar, the spacer next to the toolbar "Print" button was removed, and the drop-arrow for tasks such as the "Get a stock quote" feature was made visible under "classic."

In addition, lots of AOL and third-party applications (such as RealPlayer) were bundled in the default installer package, which probably didn't help to improve the reception...
[Mozilla 0.6 screenshot] In a change of convention, the first Mozilla release after Milestone 18 was not Milestone 19, but rather carried a traditional (if arbitrary) version number: 0.6.

Changes from M18 were otherwise minor (the only visual difference was the omission of the spacer next to the "Print" button), with the build number mysteriously absent from view in this particular release.

As with Milestone 18, this release is sometimes credited with providing the foundation of Netscape 6.0: The actual truth is that Netscape 6.0 was built off of an internally-developed branch of Mozilla from after M18 but before 0.6; more similar to the latter but carrying the "m18" designation in its user agent string.
[Mozilla 0.7 screenshot] As with 0.6, the changes that came to Mozilla 0.7 were visually very minor; limited in this case chiefly to the Personal Toolbar and sidebar (seen hidden along the left edge in the screenshot) being enabled by default.

Functionally, however, there were a number of improvements: A Personal Security Manager, SSL support for the Macintosh version, better mouse wheel support, better navigation of framed sites, and other miscellaneous changes.
[Mozilla 0.8 screenshot] In Mozilla 0.8, a duplicate Bookmarks menu control for the Personal Toolbar was added (reflecting the placement in Netscape 4.x), bookmark icons were simplified, and the status bar padlock icon was moved from immediately below the scrollbar to just left of it.

In terms of feature enhancements, Find and Replace was now implemented, a history panel was added to the sidebar, new browser windows properly cascaded with each other, animation of GIF images could be disabled or set not to cycle more than once, the download manager gained new features, and better system-color support on Linux and Windows NT/2000 was implemented.

A new type of installer (without a blue background screen) was implemented on Windows, and most remaining Seamonkey references (such as in the installer and on the desktop icon) were removed...for now.
[Mozilla 0.8.1 screenshot] Mozilla 0.8.1 introduced new and improved versions of the Chatzilla IRC client and JavaScript console, better handling of multiple themes, basic Gopher support, and the (unneeded, IMO) capability of dividing the History list into a day/site/page hierarchy.

Visually, tiny spacing changes on some toolbars and the build ID are the only things that set it apart from version 0.8.
[Mozilla 0.9 screenshot] Development was starting to ramp up towards version 1.0 when Mozilla 0.9 was released in May 2001, although that milestone was still a year away.

Some of the new features in Mozilla 0.9 included Automatic Proxy Configuration, a redesigned Personal Security Manager, a new browser and e-mail client cache, rewritten image rendering code, and a help viewer.

The "Home" button and Bookmarks menu were switched around on the Personal Toolbar.
[Mozilla 0.9.1 screenshot] Many 0.9.x version increments were released throughout 2001 and early 2002.

Mozilla 0.9.1 implemented a number of notable visual changes: The status bar and mostly-redundant Taskbar at the bottom of the window were finally combined, and "Bookmarks" was moved to the right of the spacer on the Bookmarks Toolbar.

More significantly, the optional "modern" visual theme was redesigned again to take on a much lighter and (arguably) more aesthetically-pleasing appearance, and Mozilla-branded graphics were added to the installer on Windows.
[Netscape 6.1 Preview Release 1 screenshot] The Mozilla codebase had improved quite a bit between the time of Netscape 6.0 and the time the first and only preview release for the next version, 6.1, was prepared several months later.

The default links on the Personal Toolbar were shuffled around, with "Search" and "Shop" buttons added.

As might be expected there were still quite a few bugs to work out; witnessed by the presence of the grotesquely swollen task drop list button to the left of the location field in this release.
[Mozilla 0.9.2 screenshot] Most of the changes in Mozilla 0.9.2 were limited to stability improvements, although there were other changes (such as more help viewer content, a toolbar in the View Source window, and the first experiment with Quick Launch; an optional feature for Windows that keeps the software resident in memory for faster load times) as well.

As a side note, the padlock icon migrated back underneath the scrollbar again. Mozilla 0.9.3 looks almost identical, and the Quick Launch tool now worked with multiple profiles.
[Netscape 6.1 screenshot] Netscape 6.1 was released in August 2001, and proved to be a much more capable browser than Netscape 6.0 from nearly a year earlier.

Aside from the obvious stability, rendering, and interface-related improvements, many new features such as Quick Launch, Automatic Proxy Configuration, online help, and additional sidebar tabs made their first appearances in Netscape with this version.

Netscape 6.1 was based upon a version of Mozilla close in development to 0.9.3 but carrying the 0.9.2 version designation. Crash-submission data suggests that Mozilla (and by consequence Netscape 6.x) actually became more stable than Netscape 4.x by this time.

Compared to the preview release the Personal Toolbar links were cleaned up, the task drop list button in the "classic" theme was finally fixed, and the "My Netscape," "Search," and "Shop" buttons now made use of customized icons. [Netscape 6.1 application icon] As a final touch, a new application icon with rounded corners was adopted as well, seen at right.
[Mozilla 0.9.4 screenshot] More bug fixes and minor updates had made their way into Mozilla by the time version 0.9.4 was released in September 2001.

Users on Windows were now prompted to select or deselect Quick Launch when installing the software (the feature being enabled by default on this release), drag and drop bookmark filing worked (albeit on Windows only), and there was improved language support.
[Netscape 6.2 screenshot] Mozilla 0.9.4 provided the foundation for Netscape 6.2, which followed version 6.1 by two months and contained further (albeit minor) improvements.

The task drop list button gained a discernable border and the AOL Instant Messenger component bar icon turned orange.
[Mozilla 0.9.5 screenshot] While not visible here, Mozilla 0.9.5 was the first release to implement the now-ubiquitous tabbed browsing feature (brought into action with Ctrl+T) allowing multiple pages to be loaded in a common window.

Mozilla 0.9.6 added BMP and ICO image support, a Print Preview tool (though not on the Macintosh), a new "Search for" item in the context menu, and the capability (also ubiquitous today) of displaying site icons next to the URL in the location field.
[Mozilla 0.9.7 screenshot] Mozilla 0.9.7 introduced a pop-up blocker selectable in the preferences dialogue, plus a tool called the DOM Inspector (in complete installations).

Other changes included the addition of a Close button on the sidebar, the addition of the Chatzilla icon to the Component Bar, narrower "grippy" controls on the toolbars, a Print Preview tool in the Macintosh version, and the fact that the "Save Page" option was now capable of saving linked images and other objects as well.
[Mozilla 0.9.8 screenshot] Mozilla 0.9.8 added better Hebrew and Arabic language support and improved Mail and Composer components, while version 0.9.9 substantially improved the Page Info dialogue, added a full-screen mode on Windows, and enabled MathML for displaying mathematical syntax in web pages.

Visually, Mozilla 0.9.8 looks very similar to the previous version (with more bumps on the toolbar "grippies" and infinitesimal toolbar spacing differences the only changes), and Mozilla 0.9.9 looks absolutely identical to 0.9.8.
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