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August 18, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 6:41pm

NETSCAPE UNBUNDLES NAVIGATOR TO HEAD OFF MICROSOFT IE

By CBR Staff Writer

As widely anticipated, Netscape Communications Corp is going back to its roots by unbundling its flagship Navigator web browser from its somewhat bloated cousin Communicator in a move to try and stop, or at least slow down the encroaching Microsoft Corp Internet Explorer (IE) from eating away its still-dominant browser market share. Navigator 4.02, including its Netcaster web channel software is available now from the company’s web site for $39, compared to the $59 for Communicator, which includes Collabra groupware and other utilities and $79 for Communicator Pro, which adds terminal emulation and calendaring. Microsoft’s product is free and will also become the interface to next year’s Windows 98 operating system upgrade. Netscape insists the unbundling was the plan all along, it put Navigator in Communicator just so it can unbundle it later, claimed VP marketing Mike Homer. But others believe that pressure not only from Microsoft, but from some of Netscape’s allies as well were behind the move, as Netscape’s expanded client offering, Communicator did some of things competitors’ products already did. Navigator 4.02 is the same as the Communicator 4.0 Navigator component: it is not a new product in any sense, says Homer. There will be no version of it in the shops – users will have to buy Communicator and get a $20 rebate (which they presumably have top give back if they choose to ‘upgrade’ to Communicator). The price is the same as Navigator was two years ago and involves the same pricing model as usual: a 90-day free trial, after which the user/company is supposed to pay up. The only exceptions are those in education and charities, or when the browser comes as part of a service offering from an ISP or bundled with a PC – the last of which is perhaps the most common distribution method of all. Homer claimed some 65 million desktop clients for Netscape in all. Of those, 20 million are paid licenses from corporates and 10 million are in education. The rest are from distributions that are free to the user, although the bundlers pay Netscape of course. Netscape also announced two marketing initiatives. First up is something called Netscape-Everywhere under which some 100 or so ISP and telecoms companies will distribute more than 100 million copies of Netscape client software to home users. These include Pacific Bell, Sprint Corp, Best Internet and Earthlink in the US, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica in Europe and Hong Kong telecom in Asia. Secondly, a Take Home license enables any user licensed to use Communicator or Navigator at work or at college can download a copy for use at home at no extra cost. In addition, IBM Corp signed a new licensing deal with Netscape to included Navigator with all its software and hardware offerings. In all cases it will be one of the options, rather than be exclusive. Lotus Development Corp’s recently announced a new contract with Microsoft to include Internet Explorer with the Notes 4.6 client (CI No 3,214). That was seen by many as a snub to Netscape, with whom it has not been seeing eye to eye since Netscape launched SuiteSpot and Communicator last October and the two started trading accusation abv0ut falsifying each other’s pricing and market shares. However Netscape’s deal with IBM/Lotus goes way beyond Microsoft’s, which just applies to Notes for now. Netscape also has a deal whereby any licensed users of Navigator can get all Netscape’s client and SuiteSpot server software for just $100, said Homer. It turns out that Navigator is not much smaller than Communicator, almost 7.5Mb and is available at https://home.netscape.com.

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