Home Browsers Back to the ’90s: Boutique browser Vivaldi now offers its own internet...

Back to the ’90s: Boutique browser Vivaldi now offers its own internet suite


What goes around comes around. In fact, the 1990s called and want their browser suite back.

Vivaldi, one of the boutique browsers that fight for scraps left on the floor by Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge, has turned to a strategy reminiscent of Netscape Navigator, the world’s first dominant web browser.

Vivaldi 4.0, which launched earlier this month, added an email client, calendar, and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader to the already-available browser, creating the 21st century version of Netscape Communicator, an all-in-one kitchen sink released in 1997. That collection ranged from the browser and email client (Netscape Messenger) to calendar and an HTML editor (Netscape Composer).

The successor to Netscape Communicator was, for those with long memories, the Mozilla Suite (later called the Mozilla Application Suite), which began with the former’s code base.

Vivaldi’s makers have to be hoping for a better ending than Netscape saw; that company not only lost its No. 1 spot to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer but inside of a decade had effectively disappeared from the browser playing field.

Big Tech, bad tech

Vivaldi’s co-founder and chief executive Jon von Tetzchner pitched his grab bag as the answer to Big Tech, the words initial-capped to mimic headline writers referring to the largest firms, like Google and Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, that are facing scrutiny from regulators worldwide. “The era of blindly trusting Big Tech is over,” declared von Tetzchner. “A growing movement of people worldwide is looking for reliable, functional alternatives to the tools offered by the tech giants. We are building Vivaldi to meet that need — and more — with an expanded set of integrated features that give you more control of your data and your workflow.”

It’s an interesting approach, if only because it runs counter to the demise of integrated software, like Netscape Communicator, Apple’s AppleWorks, Microsoft Works, Lotus Jazz, and others.

The Vivaldi browser remains the cornerstone of the new construction. It also remains what von Tetzchner debuted five years ago: a wildly customizable browser that very much went against the grain of austerity that Chrome pioneered, and every major rival adopted sooner or later. Vivaldi’s settings pane is still overloaded with options of all kinds, to the point that those accustomed to the minimalism of the biggest browsers may feel more lost than comfortable.

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