Oracle PowerBrowser 1.5 beta:
A Powerful but Too Shaky Ride on the Web
By Jon Kaufthal (8/6/96)
Oracle's PowerBrowser has some features that might make it the envy of even the best Web browsers, but the product's lack of stability and overall unreliability are enough to convince even beta fans to stay away, at least for now.
On a features table, PowerBrowser looks great, handily keeping pace with the latest browser necessities like tables, frames, animated GIFs, and even Java. But when taken for a road test, it becomes apparent that in regard to these features, quantity does not excuse PowerBrowser's lack of quality.
Impressively, PowerBrowser supports several features formerly limited to the domains of Netscape and Microsoft. The browser supports SSL for secure online transactions, Java, and even Netscape plug-ins. Additionally, PowerBrowser has several unique features, such as a database wizard that allows data stored in an ODBC-compliant database to be served up on the Web, a Basic-language scripting environment, and even a built-in personal Web Server. And third-party applications are supported via what Oracle calls Network Loadable Objects (NLOs), a subset of which allows for compatibility with plug-ins.
On the whole, the user interface is much like Netscape's, though several minor additions work well. Chief among these is a side panel that gives ready access to bookmarks and recently visited pages. The panel can be placed either vertically or horizontally, or hidden completely. A status bar on the bottom provides information on the page being loaded and the security of the current site, and buttons on the top toolbar search either the current page or the Internet (via AltaVista, Lycos, or WebCrawler). Small status lights at the bottom of the window indicate whenever the COM port is sending and receiving data.
For all its features, PowerBrowser can be annoyingly frustrating to use. While beta code cannot be held to the same standards as released software, the browser often feels more like an alpha product. Bookmarks occasionally send the user to the wrong page, and Java and plug-ins function unpredictably, if at all. Overall performance is slow, and generally poor; in the course of loading, a single page may appear and disappear on-screen a dozen times, forcing the user to start reading from the beginning each time a new graphic loads. And all too often, the browser simply freezes suddenly and without explanation, sometimes unfreezing seconds later and only then responding to a flurry of clicks at once, sometimes simply crashing. Regardless of PowerBrowser's full feature set, this instability is what users will undoubtedly remember.
Oracle PowerBrowser 1.5 beta
Price: free download
Requires: Microsoft Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows NT
Copyright (c) 1996 Ziff-Davis Publishing Company
back to my writings