BrowserWars - Default Browser

Each browser thinks that it should be your one and only browser. However, most people prefer to use several. Information on how to configure multiple browsers is located here.

This page is fairly technial and it is assumed that you are familiar with reading and editing the registry.

Netscape 4.75

Netscape 4.75 is a mistake. I know you HAVE to load it to test various web pages, but this is not Netscape's best work.

To begin with, this product contains RealNetworks which automatically connects to the internet without your permission (detected using ZoneAlarm) and continuously hits the registry (this is guaranteed to slow down your system).

It also loads AOL Instant Messenger and something from U.S. Robotics. It adds 21 new file extensions, mostly for RealNetworks.

There is also a design problem - one of the registry entries is wrong.

should have a value of NSShell, not Netscape. Because of this, every time you double click an html file, you will get a "file not found" error. (Way to go Netscape :) Don't you test anything.) If you try to open a second file, it simply won't display. (What a piece of ...) At any rate, a simple registry hack will fix it. (Yes, I tested it ... but only on NT 4. Oh, well:)

The InCtrl file for loading Netscape 4.75 is 191 Kb, of this 163 Kb is just the registry changes. 45 Kb after most of the RealNetworks crap is removed. With some additional cleanup, I've kept 38 Kb for reference.

One of the more insideous changes (hey, there is a reason that I call this BrowserWars) is the reconfiguration of IE.

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main
  "Check_Associations": from "Yes" 
                          to "no"
  "Search Page":        from "" 
                          to ""
  "Start Page":         from "file:///H:/My%20Documents/html/index.htm" 
                          to ""

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchUrl
  "@":                  from "" 
                          to ""

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main
  "Default_Page_URL":   from "" 
                          to ""
  "Default_Search_URL": from "" 
                          to ""
  "Search Bar":         from "" 
                          to ""
  "Search Page":        from "" 
                          to ""
  "Start Page":         from "{SUB_PRD}&clcid={SUB_CLSID}&pver={SUB_PVER}&ar=home" 
                          to ""
Check_Associations Keeps IE from reminding you that its competitor is now your favorite
Search PageWell, if you're @&! enough to use the enemy, at least your searches will now be made via Netscape and AOL will get the advertising revenues
Start PageHey I set that value. Now, instead of using my favorite start page, IE will open defaulting to Netscape.

It also hijacked the expected extensions

  Value "@": from "htmlfile" to "NetscapeMarkup"
  Value "@": from "htmlfile" to "NetscapeMarkup"
Rather than re-write the existing htmlfile parameters, a completely new set of parameters was written.

The https and http open commands were both changed from IE to Netscape. The following advertisements were added to my desktop

AOL Instant Messenger (TM).lnk
Netscape Communicator.lnk
Free AOL & Unlimited Internet.url
Simply installing Netscape made a lot of changes, but additional changes were made the first time it was run and additional changes were made after the first re-boot. For instance, ftp and gopher were re-written the first time it was run. Also the http and https icons were changed.

IE 5

Loading Netscape 4.75 stole many associations from IE 5. As a result, IE 5 constantly reminds me that its no longer my favorite and, would I please fix this. (Um, I actually had to modify the registry before this message would display.)

Well, I finally gave in and captured the folling changes.

Keys added HKCR\http\shell\open HKCR\http\shell\open\command HKCR\http\shell\open\ddeexec HKCR\http\shell\open\ddeexec\Application HKCR\http\shell\open\ddeexec\Topic HKCR\https\shell\open HKCR\https\shell\open\command HKCR\https\shell\open\ddeexec HKCR\https\shell\open\ddeexec\Application HKCR\https\shell\open\ddeexec\Topic Values Added HKCR\http\shell\open\command\@=""C:\PROGRA~1\Plus!\MICROS~1\iexplore.exe" -nohome" HKCR\http\shell\open\ddeexec\@=""%1",,-1,0,,,," HKCR\http\shell\open\ddeexec\NoActivateHandler="" HKCR\http\shell\open\ddeexec\Application\@="IExplore" HKCR\http\shell\open\ddeexec\Topic\@="WWW_OpenURL" HKCR\https\shell\open\command\@=""C:\PROGRA~1\Plus!\MICROS~1\iexplore.exe" -nohome" HKCR\https\shell\open\ddeexec\@=""%1",,-1,0,,,," HKCR\https\shell\open\ddeexec\NoActivateHandler="" HKCR\https\shell\open\ddeexec\Application\@="IExplore" HKCR\https\shell\open\ddeexec\Topic\@="WWW_OpenURL" Values changed HKCR\.htm and HKCR\.html Value "@": from "NetscapeMarkup" to "htmlfile" HKCR\.html Value "@": from "NetscapeMarkup" to "htmlfile" HKCR\ftp\DefaultIcon Value "@": from "C:\PROGRA~1\Netscape\COMMUN~1\Program\Netscape.exe,0" to "%SystemRoot%\system32\url.dll,0" HKCR\ftp\shell\open\command Value "@": from "C:\PROGRA~1\Netscape\COMMUN~1\Program\Netscape.exe -h "%1"" to ""C:\PROGRA~1\Plus!\MICROS~1\iexplore.exe" -nohome" HKCR\ftp\shell\open\ddeexec Value "@": from "%1" to ""%1",,-1,0,,,," HKCR\ftp\shell\open\ddeexec\Application Value "@": from "NSShell" to "IExplore" HKCR\gopher\DefaultIcon Value "@": from "C:\PROGRA~1\Netscape\COMMUN~1\Program\Netscape.exe,0" to "%SystemRoot%\system32\url.dll,0" HKCR\gopher\shell\open\command Value "@": from "C:\PROGRA~1\Netscape\COMMUN~1\Program\Netscape.exe -h "%1"" to ""C:\PROGRA~1\Plus!\MICROS~1\iexplore.exe" -nohome" HKCR\gopher\shell\open\ddeexec Value "@": from "%1" to ""%1",,-1,0,,,," HKCR\gopher\shell\open\ddeexec\Application Value "@": from "NSShell" to "IExplore" HKCR\htmlfile\shell\opennew Value "@": from "&Open in IE (forced Mod w/ DDE)" to "&Open" HKCR\http\DefaultIcon Value "@": from "C:\PROGRA~1\Netscape\COMMUN~1\Program\Netscape.exe,0" to "%SystemRoot%\system32\url.dll,0" HKCR\https\DefaultIcon Value "@": from "C:\PROGRA~1\Netscape\COMMUN~1\Program\Netscape.exe,0" to "%SystemRoot%\system32\url.dll,0" As you can see, the following changes were made This one was wierd - the name displayed for htmlfile\shell\opennew was changed from &Open in IE (forced Mod w/ DDE) (a name I had entered) to &Open. Perhaps this was because the shell default action was opennew. At any rate, that was the name in the original load (I kept a copy).

Setting IE as Your Default Browser

If you have both Netscape and IE on your system and Netscape is the default browser, this is one way to get IE to prompt you to make it your favorite.

From the IE menu, select

and make sure that "IE should check to see whether it is the default browser" is checked. The next time you start IE it should prompt you.

Unfortunately, this creates a right-click menu which contains no reference to Netscape. Personally, I prefer to have all browsers and several text editors listed in the right-click menu.

Author: Robert Clemenzi -
URL: http:// / user / clemenzi / technical / BrowserWars / DefaultBrowser.html