The deal comes as HP is set to unveil a new line of Brio PCs geared for small businesses, the company said. This new line, to be announced today, will include the "HP Brio Internet Center," a central hub that leads to different Net services, such as the ability to access the Internet, build a Web site or online store, and use a customized version of the Netcenter portal.
America Online, which acquired Netscape last fall, has made an effort to target its proprietary online service to consumers, who generally access the Web from home via dial-up connections. It is positioning Netcenter to attract daytime users who access the Net at work.
To do so, AOL is considering creating a service that combines Netcenter with its Communicator Web browser code, sources have said. AOL can then attach Web applications such as its AOL Instant Messenger to the product.
As for HP, the hardware giant is trying to become more Web savvy. It recently announced a similar partnership with Yahoo to create corporate intranet services.
An entry-level Brio BA400 will include a 433-MHz Intel Celeron processor, 32MB of memory, and a 4.3GB hard drive for $649. The higher-end BA600 comes with a 500-MHz Pentium III processor with 64MB of memory and a 8.4 GBhard drive for $1,179, HP said.