AOL Time Warner property Netscape Communications launched a fresh salvo in the browser war with the release of its Netscape 7.0 preview browser yesterday.

The release comes as news emerges that the Mozilla open-source browser is beta testing for final release. Mozilla was initiated by Netscape, and the company uses the same browser engine as Mozilla: Gecko.

Netscape may be hoping to regain some of its dwindling market share with the product, which boasts new features such as Click-to-Search. This allows users to highlight a word or phrase with their mouse and click ‘Web Search’ to receive a separate browser window of search results.

New features A significant new feature in the release – tabbed browsing – allows users to keep track of a number of sites or pages as tabbed pages in a single browser window, clicking between them as necessary.

Netscape is touting its new Gecko-driven browser as fast, and optimized for activities such as file-downloading, searching, shopping, and listening to music. New customization features have been included for both Netscape mail and AOL’s integrated Instant Messenger program, AIM.

Other new features include: a selection of Search Tooltips in My Sidebar; a Quick Search facility for the Address Book and Mail; Mail alerts; a download manager; and improved performance and stability.

The product also features [email protected], an integrated radio product that features over 175 stations. However, this feature uses RealPlayer 8 – which isn’t yet available for Mac OS X.

Mail and instant messaging applications are also part of the solution, as is Netscape Composer, an editor that lets users create standards-compliant Web documents.

Until last June, AOL used Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as its default browser, but the company has recently said that it is testing a Gecko-powered browser for the service.

Mac system requirements call for a 604e/266MHz or faster PowerPC processor, 64MB RAM, and 36MB of hard-drive space. Netscape 7.0 Preview Release 1 runs on Mac OS 8.6 or later, including Mac OS X.