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ISP-Planet: AOL Unleashes Netscape 6 Browser

Apr 05, 2000, 18:13 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Patricia Fusco)

by Patricia Fusco, InternetNews.com

Leaping nimbly from version 4.x to 6, Netscape's long-awaited next-gen browser relaunches with a totally new code base, modular design.

America Online, Inc. Wednesday previewed the release of its Netscape 6 browser. The maker of the Web-browsing software at the center of the U.S. government's antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. unveiled a leaner version of its programming code, reducing the overall size of the browser.

As a part of the browser launch, America Online (AOL) and Gateway, Inc. plan to introduce a family of specialized Internet appliances to promote AOL's instant access strategy. Both Netscape 6 and the new Internet appliances are powered by Netscape's Gecko browser engine technology.

In contrast to Internet Explorer's focus on Windows, Netscape's ubiquitous Gecko browser will run not only on Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows platforms, but also the Apple Computers, Inc. (AAPL) Macintosh and Linux operating systems, the two chief rivals to Windows. Netscape 6 is also programmed to work on Internet devices like TV set-top boxes and Web-based kiosks.

Steve Case, AOL chairman and chief executive officer, touted the browser's open source code that enables users to take the Internet with them, anywhere they go.

"Our next-generation Netscape 6 browser will provide consumers with new opportunities to enjoy the versatility of the interactive medium, anywhere, anytime and any way they want," Case said.

"Powered by the open source Gecko technology, Netscape 6 will deliver more robust and lively content with new levels of speed, convenience and customization, and will allow people to take advantage of innovative new applications that reside on the Web, not just on their desktops," Case added.

Programmers tossed the old code started fresh to design Netscape 6, which features faster to downloads and streamlined installation. Users can download additional components for e-mail or Internet phone calling, but exclude other items, reducing the overall size of the browser.

Barry Schuler, AOL president of interactive services, said Netscape 6 and its Gecko browser engine will fuel the next wave of the Internet that will run on multiple platforms and many devices in addition to the traditional PC.

"Built from the ground up, Netscape 6 is a completely new browser that delivers a more robust and lively Internet experience," Schuler said. "Gecko not only powers our new browser, but also anchors the mission critical technology that enables consumers and businesses to access the Internet from anywhere."

New to Netscape 6 are a variety of user options including "My Sidebar," a fully customizable feature that lets consumers keep the online functions and information they view most often at their fingertips. Already several content providers including CNN and eBay (EBAY) have developed tabs for the new sidebar feature.

Additional user options include accessing Netscape Instant Messenger, and the ability to access multiple e-mail accounts at the same time. Like other popular portals, Netscape 6 allows users to personalize the themes of their start-up page.

Netscape 6 includes the Java plug-in from Sun Microsystems, Inc. (SUNW) . It also features Internet telephony services powered by Net2Phone, Inc. (NTOP).

Netscape 6 added an automatic translation feature based on Gist-in-Time programming from Alis Technologies, Inc., which translates Web pages in a single mouse click. Finally, Netscape 6 features a cookie manager, which allows consumers to accept or block cookies from being placed on their hard drives.

The first three AOL-Gateway (GTW) Internet appliances featuring "Instant AOL" are slated for release within a year. The appliances include a countertop device that is small enough to be placed in any area, a web pad featuring wireless connections to a compact base station and a small desktop appliance serving as a low-cost alternative to convention home computers.

But the software that created the first Internet explosion and once held nearly a 90 percent market share, faces an uphill battle against Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which still ships in every Windows PC and holds nearly 70 percent of the market.

In an effort to take back some of its market share, AOL is launching a huge advertising campaign to promote Netscape 6.

America Online is running a series of advertisements in national newspapers and magazines, and on broadcast and cable television networks promoted Netscape 6 as "The power of the Internet made simple."

AOL's Case said the launch of Netscape 6 takes AOL's mobile marketing strategy to a new level.

"These groundbreaking Internet appliances take our AOL Anywhere strategy to another level, Case said. "These devices advance our goal of extending easy-to-use AOL-branded interactive services to new devices, and embedding them into consumers' everyday lives."

"Both of these important initiatives, along with our merger with Time Warner, Inc. (TWX) further advance our mission to build a global medium as central to people's lives as the telephone or television, and even more valuable," Case added.


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