Netscape Communications Corp has released a second beta version of its Communicator internet software. Now users can select the Netscape package as the default browser, email and address book application on Microsoft Corp’s Windows 98 and 95 operating systems. Why has it taken so long for Netscape to come up with a package that can serve as a Windows default? Apparently the company waited for a final rather than a beta copy of Windows 98 to develop Communicator 4.5PR2. In Netscape’s defense, a spokesperson claimed that this wasn’t as prevalent an issue before Microsoft integrated the browser with the OS at the heart of Windows 98. Working on the principle that if you can’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em, Microsoft’s controversial concept is now mirrored in the tight integration between Communicator and Netscape’s portal site, NetCenter. According to Netscape, this brings NetCenter one click closer than rival portals like Yahoo! That matters because it’s on the portal site that the company hopes to make its money. By raising customer awareness of, and brand loyalty to NetCenter, Netscape hopes to draw in more advertisers and get more sponsors. Other planned moneyspinners include fax and paging, virus scan and POP3 services on the otherwise free NetCenter site. The company says it will make a full announcement on these new services in the fourth quarter. A final version of Communicator is expected by the end of October.