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September 16, 1998

NETSCAPE: CLARIFICATION AND PREDICTION

By CBR Staff Writer

To clarify a story that ran in yesterday’s edition of ComputerWire: Netscape Communicator now asks during installation whether or not the user wants to set it as the default browser. Until now the internet application suite had made itself the default without asking the user. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still does. Meanwhile, back in Mountain View, California, it seems increasingly unlikely that Netscape’s next generation layout engine, also known as NGLayout, will actually ship with Navigator 5. We all believe that NGLayout will replace the current layout sources, sometime around the end of this year, wrote Chris Toshok and Nisheeth Ranjan for the Mozilla development team. That’s the good news, now for the bad: NGLayout will not be ready to be included into the Mozilla source by the time we want to release 5.0. That’s a serious problem. NGLayout was conceived to address Navigator’s numerous deficiencies in supporting World Wide Web Consortium standards, most notably Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and HTML 4.0. That Navigator doesn’t fully support these standards is bad. That an international coalition of web developers calling itself the Web Standards Project has mobilized to try and force Netscape and Microsoft to adhere to W3C standards only makes things worse for Netscape (CI No 3,471). Support for CSS and HTML 4 could be all the leverage Internet Explorer 5 needs to pry Navigator from its majority position in the browser market. Netscape is putting its faith in the integration of the browser with its Netcenter web site to give it a needed edge in the highly competitive portal space. Without the traffic generated by being the default startup page of a mass- market browser, however, Netcenter is just another portal.

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