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Alternatives for the browser
Well, there's a lot of tweaks to apply to IE4/5, some call it "skinning". Add your own colors and other window enhacements and call it yours.. not enough ?? There's also a couple of applications, all running on the IE engine, providing a frontend that makes your browser skinnable, or really different. Plus, you could move away from IE completely:
Skinnable front-ends
Ok, this list grew over the years, time to set some distinction marks. First, the fully free and living frontends to IE:
Mad Cow (2) is developed by snocorp. Basically it seperates the toolbar and the viewing window, and lets you create any look you want for the toolbar. Skinning is not too hard, but quite advanced. When viewing full screen, the toolbar always stays on top, and is over the viewing window, so skins shouldn't be too heigh... but a little resizing when not in full screen mode may work too. Snocorp recently picked up development again.

Another option with no ads and nags: iNetTabs. Tabbed surfing, simple layout, automatically importing favorites, non-intrusive install, nice app. This was kinda adopted around as a good alternative for skinners.
Actually, the only shareware frontends that actually make the impression of being living projects:
There's Themebar. This one sits inside IE, handles the toolbar wallpaper, animation (explorer windows too), but also the buttons! It actually nests itself in IE, and themes can be installed while downloading. Last versions let you completely rebuild the toolbars.

And there's WebBlinds, a product by Stardock. Uses WindowBlinds or specific skins. Used to be supported with ads, now there's a "free" and enhanced version. First skins IE (and does a good job on that), second includes smartblocking (grabs popups and ads them in the statusbar - website owners get their revenue, you can easily get rid of them - cool). The quotes around free are ironic, free and a nag screen don't combine in my limited brain.
Old glory, all commercial, making the impression of abandoned projects. Some are actually free, but have banners or pro versions that are advertised etc:
NeoPlanet is a commercial effort, though it's free. Skins are very advanced and will create a completely different look. If you want to make your own it will require some study, but it's worthwhile. Annoying facts... shortcuts are created everywhere, it has this urge (like IE/NS) to be the default for everything, errors while I don't wanna load channels, connecting when I don't want too, not holding all my preferences... it will take some time to get it the way you like it!

CrystalPort follows the IE layout. Free version won't let you disable advertisement,.. format of the skins is very (?) similar to neoplanet. But it allows you to run another application (mail, chat...) within the browser itself, and has some very advanced features.

BrowserBob has the unique option to ship your design as a seperate product... like you don't apply the skin, it just is a browser (still needs IE) you can present your friends, which is pretty cool. One more of those: Oligo. Both now seem to be straightforward shareware (I think they are, correct us if not, not installing all these again :).
Last, fully free, but abandoned:
CipherNet is a big download and no options to create a skin yet, but with an html-editor, mp3-player, ftp-client and more. Some nice (quite advanced) skins included and behaving very friendly here - it's free, but no advertising, associating with stuff etc. Worth a good look, but expect no updates - you can download it, but that's about it...)
"Tabbed" surfing
Ervin, idvah and devanir suggested some IE-frontends that are not really decorative, but enhance in different ways, like adding a tabbed interface, improved security, popup killing and such... come to think of it, there's free alternative browsers with these and/or other features too. The frontends:
NetCaptor is an IE-frontend, not skinnable or otherwise decorative :), just a pretty much enhanced IE. Different browser windows stored under tabs, improved security and much more. Shareware, though (alive (?) - hard to tell).

No ads or anything with SurfTabs. Another IE-frontend, adding tabs, single executable, pretty cool. Discontinued...

Free also, with the tabs, popup killing and more: Crazy Browser. What's that ad popping up...

Another single executable, Internet Surfer, also free, no ads, more advanced features. Ok, this one is just what it says ;).
On to fullfledged browser replacemnets. This section has grown in strength lately - these are real alternatives, nothing klike the old NS4 releases:
Latest versions of Opera are now free too. Just being able to survive, being a shareware, says something about quality. Once again, there's a free, ad-supported version and a "pro" version you pay for...

One more free alternative for tabbed surfing is Scope. Very light, with a single executable, great graphics. Compare IE/Netscape view/engines with it, fast loading. Try it!

K-Meleon (free) is a lite Web browser based on gecko (the mozilla rendering engine). It's fast, has a minimal interface, is fully standards-compliant, and has plugin support.

We almost forgot Mozilla, open source project going strong as a (the ?) real IE competitor, fast, customizable etc... info on how to customize it (and Opera) found at the browser branding page.

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