Who it is developed by?
The Second Life viewer is developed by Linden Labs and is the base viewer. It can be downloaded from there website and used to log into Second Life. Most features are available that other viewers offer.
What functionality it provides?
The second life viewer allows a user to log into their Second Life account and access the Second Life world. This viewer is only made for Second Life. The viewer can be used downloaded in Windows, Mac, and Linux versions. Note that on the download page that there a links to the Mac and Linux versions. All the basic functions like chat, group chat, viewing and modifying inventory and building can be done from in the viewer. This is managed through a series of popup boxes that have all the controls in them. These boxes can be moved and resized around the screen to the user’s prefered location. This is that base viewer that other viewers are built off and offer more functions than it.
It also allows advanced and developer controls that can be toggled on by the user. This enables more way the user can interact with the world.
How easy is it to use?
Being that I have already user Firestorm viewer before, going to the Second Life viewer was easy. The UI layout was simple and customizable. Installing the viewer was quick and it did its hardware detection on install which I found useful so it doesn’t do it each start up. The login screen was very simple but this is because it only has to access Second Life.
It logged in quickly and rendered in the world smoothly.
Being use to Firestorm I found the mouse movement a little delayed at times and jittery. This lead to some miss clicks.
How it compares to others?
One major difference to Firestorm is only being able to log into Second Life and know other virtual environments. This is logical though as this is made by the developers of Second Life.
Another comparison to Firestorm is the UI design. There a less options presented to the user along the top bar and in the preferences.
I think this is to allow new user to learn how to use the viewer quicker, ruther that getting swamped in options.
What your impressions of it are?
I found when using the viewer that some of the boxed menus and help windows to a long time to load. I was usually stuck at a white box while it loaded. Sometimes it wouldn’t load and closing and reopening the box fixed it. I also found that you sometimes can’t make boxes smaller that a certain size, meaning that they take up a lot of room on the screen. Although having less options presented to the user may be a benefit at the start this could later take away from an experienced player game.
The viewer overall seems less refined that others but it is a good starting point. I liked that by default the WASD keys were used for movement and the color scheme was easy on the eye.