Internet

Communicator back on Compaq computers

The computer maker is offering the Communicator Web browsing suite on some computers alongside Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser after a long absence.

Compaq has quietly resumed bundling Netscape's browser software on its low-end machines.

The computer maker is now offering the Communicator Web browsing suite on some computers alongside Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser after a long absence. Compaq attributed the resumption to its desire to offer "consumer choice."

Compaq said Netscape's browser would appear either as an icon on the desktop users see when they first log on or within an online communications folder. The company did not say what would determine its placement. Nor did it specify which models are carrying Communicator, though the Presario line is among them.

Compaq Microsoft's day in court senior vice president John Rose is expected to testify within the next few weeks in the Justice Department's (DOJ) antitrust suit against Microsoft. Compaq is the only computer OEM testifying, although the government submitted documents earlier in the suit to support its allegations that Microsoft forced computer vendors like Compaq, Gateway 2000, and Micron Electronics to include Internet Explorer and Microsoft Network icons on all PCs that came preinstalled with the Windows 95 operating system. The government has alleged that Microsoft used the leverage of its market-dominating Windows operating system force the OEMs to feature IE prominently at the expense of Communicator.

With Microsoft under the antitrust microscope for its tactics, computer makers are more likely to offer competing browsers. NEC and Gateway 2000 were among the first firms to resume bundling of Communicator.