The two most popular reasons for using Netscape 4.x:
1) They're using a company/school/library computer that only has NN4.x available and nothing can be downloaded
2) They don't know/care about other browsers
It's mostly 1) though.
I stuck with Netscape 4.7 way longer than I should have. Now I'm on Firefox 1.0.
I did that as soon as FF 1.0 became available.
I wouldn't have looked to change, but my copy of NS 4.7 got corrupted and crashed a lot.
Now I'm glad I did. So, why don't all the others make the switch?
Maybe their copies are still running properly.
I only miss one thing from Netscape:
The NS email editor and the NS browser talked to one another properly,
I still don't have that with FF and Thundercluck (or whatever) Email.
Why don't you move to the Mozilla suite? It contains the browser and email client in one program like NS4.
The vast majority of the very few users I have are using Netscape 4.x on Unix workstations running older versions of Sun Solaris. Sun now offers the Mozilla suite as the default browser/email client, but until pretty recently, Netscape 4.x was the default. Most users of those workstations have no ability to change software packages.
Netscape 4.x users on Windows are almost all using older machines running Windows NT4 or 95 which are not powerful enough to run Firefox or Mozilla. Don't forget the importance of the integrated email client too - that is one big reason why the very few users left don't switch.
Firefox has much bigger fish to fry than to target NN4 users: their primary aim is to garner advanced users away from IE.
I work for a state college and IT will install new browsers on old machines and people will still use Netscape 4.7. They've found that unless they remove the program (or at the very least remove the icon from their desktop) they'll just keep on clicking the same icon they've always used. There just seems to be a very large group of people who are just not technically savvy. They use what they've always used since they first learned to use their computer. Some just fear any change whatsoever. They're afraid that if they install a new browser they'll break their computer and they won't get back on the internet. Some aren't allowed to install anything (probably for good reason.)
We say to ourselves how could they possibly see the web through Netscape 4's eyes and not upgrade. Well, they just don't know that the reason it looks bad is the browser and that they should get another one. They just don't know any better. They blame the website, not the browser. And if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
|they'll just keep on clicking the same icon they've always used |
Netscape is still a recognized brand by many. A while back, I persuaded a person to move from NN4 whan I switched them to Netscape 7.1 running the "Classic" theme (looks like NN4). An upgrade to a new version is safer than a switch to a new browser, and their email client was still there and integrated as their old Netscape was. Choosing Netscape rather than the unknown Mozilla added reassurance - the "N" icon was familiar.
Thanks for the good explanations. I've been puzzled by what was motivating these people. Some nice CSS tricks will work more consistently when they decide to upgrade, and I'd like to feel comfortable using them more.
|Choosing Netscape rather than the unknown Mozilla added reassurance |
Then they really ought to read the documentation. In Netscape 4.x on Unix the last line of the readme read
|And remember, it's spelled Netscape, but it's pronounced Mozilla |
|Why do surfers persist with Netscape version 4.x? It has strange rendering issues and more. I've heard solid reasons for Opera, Firefox, IE, but don't understand the loyalty to Netscape 4.x. I didn't like the newer versions of Netscape, so figured they didn't upgrade for that reason. Now it seems to me that Firefox would be a logical transition path for them. |
Is there something people really like about Netscape 4.x, or are they just caught by inertia?
Some are stuck on an older OS that doesn't have any updates. Mac OS Classic, for instance, is stuck with IE 5.2 or Netscape 4.7. No new Safari, Camino, Mozilla, Firefox or Opera for them. (Though the older Opera 6.03 should still work)
Windows 95 is another one. IE 5.5 was its last browser, but Microsoft doesn't make it available anymore... so you need to do a fair amount of hunting to find a copy. Mozilla and Firefox do not officially support Windows 95 and will crash when installing. There is a set of steps to follow for installing Firefox on Windows 95 and Windows 98 RTM that will get the browser up and running that I've put together. I can't link to it here, though, as it's on one of my own sites.
|Some are stuck on an older OS that doesn't have any updates. Mac OS Classic, for instance, is stuck with IE 5.2 or Netscape 4.7. No new Safari, Camino, Mozilla, Firefox or Opera for them. (Though the older Opera 6.03 should still work) |
Of the browsers for the older Mac OS versions, Netscape 4.7 is probably the best overall. I believe it will work on System 7, 8 and 9 and most of the older 680x0 Macs. There are quite a few of the older systems still in use. IE on the Classic OS is mostly crash-prone, unsecure garbage. There are a few options that are more updated, but not real well known.
Captain Tylor, that's a good observation. When I analyze logs for browser PLUS operating system, NN4 is most often on a Mac.
Sounds like we need to setup a fund to upgrade these people to mini-macs!
It hadn't occurred to me there were actually people who couldn't upgrade their browser.
|It hadn't occurred to me there were actually people who couldn't upgrade their browser. |
Yeah, lots of people forget this. There are still millions of Windows 95 (about 4 million, from my estimate) and Mac Classic users online with no official (or even unofficial for Mac Classic) upgrade path. Most of the Mac Classic folks can't even upgrade their operating system, let alone their browser. Some of the Windows 95 folks fall in the same boat (though many *can* upgrade to Win98 SE and gain better browser support, etc).
While it is true that many users still utilize older browsers, I think that the general focus of web design has moved beyond the worry of strict compatibility with Netscape 4.x. The idea now is to degrade gracefully.
|While it is true that many users still utilize older browsers, I think that the general focus of web design has moved beyond the worry of strict compatibility with Netscape 4.x. The idea now is to degrade gracefully. |
I don't think most web folks worry about strict compatibility with Netscape 4 anymore. The design constraints are so limiting that they outweight the benefit of working with such a small audience.
As metnioned, with a short time working on a compatible set of CSS, you can have your site degrade gracefully and still be visually appealing to older browser users.