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Product Reviews

ICQ 99a Beta* Build #1547

Microsoft Outlook 98

Internet Explorer Beta 2

NeoPlanet 2.0 Beta

ICQ 99a Beta* Build #1547

By Ken Bischof

   ICQ (I seek you) the best Instant messaging software ever and now there is a new version ICQ 99a beta is out, you would think something so good couldn't get any better, Well it has. ICQ 99a goes way beyond just messaging. With ICQ 99a you get your own ICQ web page that your can customize. By adding your own graphics colors add text you can also set up files on your computer that people can download. Next you can now sort your contacts into groups, like your friends, co workers etc. Also new is an notes feature that are like the little yellow post-it notes for your computer, And a greeting card sender so you can send your friend or family member little internet card.

   The main window of ICQ has also been changed, there is a new services button that is home to most of the new tools that come along with ICQ.

   The chat feature has also been improved your can now send actions change font size, style, colors and type. You can see a screen shot here.

   The same goes for instant messaging you can change the background color along with the fonts. Also when you type a URL it turns into a hyperlink. Here is a screen shot of that. Also you are now able to give more info about your self like your picture, work address, birthday, interests and put your homepage into categories so that people can find it easier.

   So download it! The best Instant messaging software just got better, With tons of new features ICQ will be number one for years to come.

*The setup program says this is an Alpha version.

Internet Explorer 5 Beta 2 Reviews

Review No.1

By Ken Bischof

Well it's finally here, After almost 5 months Microsoft released Internet Explorer 5 Beta 2. This new release added some more tools and builds on the already great Internet Explorer 4 user interface. but after using it for awhile I noticed that there is a major bug in the FTP explorer that still needs to be fixed, but that's about all I've encountered. A nice feature is the Compatibility Mode that let you have Internet Explorer 4 and 5 installed on the same system. Internet Explorer 5 also saves window settings, real handy if you use Internet Explorer in full screen mode. Internet Explorer 5 beta 2 also comes with a few new tools and updates to your old favorites:

Outlook Express: one of the best email clients got some updates to, with a new welcome page and outlook bar making it look more and more like Outlook 98 with every new beta release.

New Setup and Update Wizard: makes installation a snap, and it looks good to.

Form Auto Complete: that speeds up forms

Dial-up Networking dialer and a new Connection Wizard: that make setting up and using a dial-up connection to the internet easier.

Vector Graphics (VML): support has been added.

Go! Button: on the address bar that doesn't really do to much but it's a nice touch.

Microsoft has done a great job on this release, making it one of the best betas from Microsoft. And I am already looking forward to the next release.

Review No.2

By Bader Alabbasi

Beta 2 is finally out and I don't think you wanna miss it. As usual there are some great new features added to Microsoft's new browser, but you have to keep in mind that it's still a beta software and it does contain bugs.

What I first noticed when I installed IE 5 is that it is faster than Beta 1 and even than IE 4.01, furthermore, its more stable. You now have a better and more customizable Search Bar which can even search multiple search engines at a time. The Favorites Bar now looks better and the History Bar allows you to view sites by date, size, most visited and by order visited; moreover, it allows you to search for a specific word or phrase in the history contents. You can add a Folder Button to IE 5's toolbar manually which lets you open a Folder Bar and access files and webpages at the same time from Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer can now save your settings when you exit, for example, you can open the search bar or view IE in full screen mode, and when you open IE the next time it will be in full screen mode and the search bar will be there in its place.

Another new feature is that the AutoComplete now suggests some choices when you type anything in the address bar, for example, when you type "c:\win" it will suggest to open "c:\windows" or "c:\winnt" or "Search for c:\win". The same way when you type an internet address. You can even type the friendly name of the site which is stored in your favorites and AutoComplete will suggest the name it finds in the Favorites. AutoComplete can now also be used in forms and password to save you time and effort; however, you can turn it off for more security. AutoComplete new features work with Windows Explorer too.

A new feature not available before is the IE5 repair. It can be used to fix problems that could occur within IE, although I didn't try it yet. Another thing is that IE5 now supports Vector Graphics Rendering (VML). A new setup wizard now makes installation and update easier than ever. The Save As Dialog now lets you save web pages as Web Archives with an "mht" extension.

Outlook Express has a better user interface now with a new and enhanced welcome screen thats makes it look more like Outlook 98. The Outlook Bar has been brought back and now you can add your own shortcuts to it. Outlook Express now manages email more efficiently and can help you get rid of junk mail. There's a new Find feature which allows you to find messages. The Options dialog box is easier to use than before and has more options too.

As I said before, Beta 2 still contains bugs. These are the ones I've noticed:

  • Problems with the FTP User interface that were there from Beta 1.

  • The Organize Favorites hanged many times while trying to create new folders.

  • Problems with renaming in the Organize Favorites dialog box.

  • Outlook Express has some problems with virus scanners.

  • The Work Offline button in dial-up connection dialog box which appears when you open IE5 requires to be clicked more than once in order to disappear.

Review No.3

By John Jensen

   When I first downloaded Internet Explorer Beta I, I was in love.... it's been my default browser for almost five months. But IE 5 Beta I... well, sucks compared to Beta 2. IE 5 Beta 2 has fixed the FTP problem for the most part, it doesn't require you to put your password in the address, just your user name... though I still prefer WS_FTP.

   Outlook Express 5 Beta 2 has many refinements: multiple users, new logo for Win98 users, DHTML looking tip of the day, and it will fill your every need even if your a techie or a novice(Outlook 98 is better for all you techies, though). OE has a bug in one of it's DLL's to cause problems with certain Virus Scanners. OE 5 now includes an encrypt feature on the Send Menu.

   On to, IE 5 it self.... For novices IE 5 is very useable: the "Go" Button is useless to us nerds, but less computer literate folks find the Go button easier to remember than pressing enter all the time; now the Errors(this is a DNS error, here is a 404 error) are even more explanatory(than Beta 1) and the Tip of the Day feature will let novices become techies in a few mere weeks. The shell improvements aren't a plenty, but now the >>'s are darker, also notice another "Go" Button.

   A feature available for download with IE 5 Beta 2 is Web Folders. These will be used on Office 2000 for on-line documents and such. The History feature has been updated with a cool new search feature. The Import/Export Wizard is a great add-on, the MS guy who came up with this should be given a metal. Same with the Form AutoComplete, it works with passwords, too. Even the regular AutoComplete has been given a facelift. Since MS products don't always install properly, they've thrown in The Self Repair Add-on to repair those pesky mistakes in a bad setup.

   The Setup has a new graphical interface that looks real sharp, but there are many more improvements than graphics. Now, you can choose each and every thing you want and/or don't want. The Folder View is way cool...... it tightens the IE integration to a cooler level. It makes it easier to go the files on your computer instead of having to type them as in IE 5 Beta 1 and IE 4.

   Internet Explorer 5, I predict, will prove Microsoft's great ability to make really kickass software, that serves every one from novice to techie to Netscape users to losers(those last two things are the same :-). This browser is great for a final version much less a beta. On a scale from 1-10, Internet Explorer 5 Beta II is a nine and a half(9.5).

Download Setup

More Screen Shots

NeoPlanet 2.0 Beta

By Ken Bischof

   There are many Internet browsers out there but none come close to NeoPlanet's user interface. NeoPlanet is an Internet Explorer shell, you must have Internet Explorer 3.0+ installed on your system in order for it to work.

    NeoPlanet comes with several tools to make surfing to world wide wait better, first there is the interface which is very easy on the eyes with it's rounded buttons and curved lines giving it a futuristic look. There is also a full screen mode like Internet Explorer 4 that gives you maximum viewing space for web pages. Also there is a channel bar lists all the popular sites on the net in categories for easy access.

    NeoPlanet also has an e-mail client that is not HTML compatible. The E-mail client also sports the same interface as the browser and is very easy to use.

   Also in this package is the Modem Speed Booster(MBS) that optimizes your software's interaction with your hardware to make web page images and sounds load faster.

   The Search feature in NeoPlanet lets you search for anything on the web like web sites, movie reviews, sports scores and people all in an easy to use windowed interface.

    All of this and a customizable interface that lets you change color schemes and button configuration NeoPlanet beats Internet Explorer hands down.

   Great job NeoPlanet team keep up the good work!

Screen Shot


Outlook 98

By John Jensen

   By far this is the best E-mail program available.   It now supports HTML mail so it's up to date with Outlook Express.  Outlook 98 has almost every option you can think of.  You can adjust the way the menus slide or fold out(even without Windows 98) you can use many different editors and types of E-mail(i.e. HTML, Word, Outlook Rich Text, etc.).  You can use the same stationary as with Outlook Express or even make your own or download others and use it's import and export features.  You can organize almost everything in Outlook 98.  The downside.....  it's a big as IE 4.  But it is well worth it.

    Outlook 98 isn't just an e-mail app it also has a calendar, a task manager, and a place for drafts.  And cool feature called notes which are like virtual post-its.  If your into virtual journals it has one of those too.  Also you can create your own shortcuts.  If you like Outlook Express they can co-exist.   The V-card format for your Contacts are Drag and Dropable in to their address books.  And you can Import and Export most stuff.  There are many differences between Outlook 98 and Outlook Express (4) these are a few of them:

More Options- Outlook 98 has a whole lot more options.

User Level- Outlook 98 is targeted towards the more advanced user while OE is for a beginner or less techie person.

Spell Checker- Outlook 98 comes with a Spell Checker(shared by all office family members) with a custom dictionary.

More Buttons- Outlook 98 comes with a $#!t load of buttons and you can create your own tool bars.

Office Assistant- Outlook 98 comes with a(sometimes annoying) Office Assistant

Active Setup- Outlook 98 come with it's own Active Setup(like IE 4's).

    All-in-all this is one of the best things to come out out of Microsoft yet and, yes this is the E-mail program set as default on my computer. Download!


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