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ISP-Planet: AOL Unleashes Netscape 6 Browser

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.

—End