Users Choose the Best Internet Software

Dec. 21, 2004
The proper tools are needed for efficient use.

O.K., so you now have access to the Internet. And you think you're part of the computer cognoscenti, browsing with the best of them. Think again. Unless you have access through a national or local Internet service provider and have downloaded the latest Internet tools, you're driving one of last year's models on the information highway, and you may not be taking advantage of all the Internet has to offer. To uncover the best programs for browsing the World Wide Web, sending and receiving Internet email, participating in Usenet discussion groups, chatting, and carrying out other Internet tasks, I conducted an informal survey of Internet afficionados. Netscape Navigator is the hands-down favorite Web browser, recommended most frequently by users of Windows 95, Windows 3.1, Windows NT, the Mac, and Unix. Timothy L. Young, a support technician, sums it up by saying, "Netscape is easy to use, loads pages quickly and is the industry leader." The two most recommended Netscape add-ons are RealAudio, for listening to music and voice transmissions over the Internet, and Shockwave, for sound, video and animation. If you're dialing into a "shell" account and can't run Netscape, Lynx is the browser of choice. WebExplorer is the way to go if you want a native OS/2 browser. Netscape includes easy-to-use tools for Internet mail and Usenet discussion groups and is fine for many users. But stand-alone mailers and newsreaders can be more sophisticated. Dan Cottler, a software consultant, finds using Netscape for mail and news like "using a hammer to put in a screw." The most recommended stand-alone mail client is Eudora, available for both Windows and Mac users, followed closely by Pegasus. For shell users, Pine is tops. Hillary Gorman, a support technician at an Internet service provider, says that Pine "handles everything I need to do, including MIME-encoded mail attachments, importing and exporting files from my home directory, using batched commands and having multiple incoming mailboxes." Agent is the top newsreader for Windows users. For Mac users, it's YA-Newswatcher. Many OS/2 users prefer the newsreader in Neologic Suite, which is a collection of Internet tools. Tin is the way to go for shell users, but some Unix gurus prefer the lesser-known SLRN. Netscape lets you transfer files using FTP, but stand-alone FTP clients provide faster transfer speeds and more options. The top recommendations are WS-FTP for Windows, Fetch for the Mac and NCFTP for Unix. David L. Johnson, an associate professor of mathematics, likes NCFTP's wealth of configuration options. If you want to log onto other computers, you'll need a Telnet client. One is included with Windows 95, but NetTerm offers more capabilities. Dexter Gresh, a video producer, likes the Zmodem file transfer protocol built into NetTerm. For the Mac, Black Night is a good choice. The program mIRC is most recommended for Windows users who want to chat with others over the Internet in "real time." PowWow, which lets you exchange voice messages with others as well as text, is another popular program. Ircle is a good choice for Mac uses.

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