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Communicator 4.5 adds tools for roaming users

Communicator 4.5 adds tools for roaming users

Netscape Communicator 4.5, recently posted to Netscape's Web site, offers several dozen enhancements to the Internet client suite. But there are only a few that will matter when you decide whether to switch to Netscape or to upgrade.

At the top of this short list of critical enterprise enhancements is the product's enhanced support for IMAP4. This protocol allows messages to be stored on the server, where they can be accessed from different computers.

Beyond this basic capability, which existed in earlier versions of the program, Communicator 4.5 also supports advanced IMAP4 features, including fast header downloads, shared folders, and message status tracking. These are big pluses for roaming professionals.

Another key enhancement in Communicator 4.5 is the suite's enhanced support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), which is more advanced than what you'll find in Microsoft's Outlook 98. In addition to basic LDAP support, which provides a standard data format for address book and directory information, Communicator now allows you to access multiple phone books.

The program also offers a pop-up selector for name resolution, plus strong directory search tools.

Communicator now also supports mail and address synchronisation with 3Com's PalmPilot.

Netscape's SmartBrowsing features are an added incentive to upgrade if you missed Version 4.06, in which they were introduced.

The reason is there's a new What's Related button that displays a list of Web sites related to the current one.

Inappropriate content

Another SmartBrowsing feature is the use of Internet keywords in the Go To line. Instead of typing a URL, type in "New York Times" to get the New York Times Web site.

Finally, you can use Netscape's Web site rating service to screen out "inappropriate" Web content.

There are dozens of other enhancements in this version of Communicator, including faster Java execution, broader support for Java and JavaScript, and a SmartUpdate feature for automatically updating your installation of Communicator over the Web. End users will certainly find Communicator 4.5 easier to use than previous versions. But is Communicator 4.5 as easy to use as Microsoft's client suite? In every instance save the Web browser, yes. I do wish, however, that Netscape would adopt some of the nifty interface features of Microsoft Internet Explorer, particularly its navigation panels that remain open as Web sites are displayed.

The Bottom Line

Netscape Communicator 4.5

This upgrade to Netscape's Internet client suite will keep the product competitive, and its advanced support for IMAP4 and LDAP may convince some administrators with roaming users to switch to Netscape.

Pros: Strong support for IMAP4 and LDAP; tools for finding related Web sites; SmartUpdate.

Cons: Navigator interface still a little bit clunky.

Platforms: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Macintosh, Unix.

Price: Free.

Netscape Communications

Tel 1800 650 199


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