At its Internet Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, Netscape will evangelize to thousands of attendees its plug-in architecture, a key component of the company's Navigator 2.0 browser, which has already spawned a thriving development community.
More than 30 developers have already created Netscape plug-ins--ranging from Microsoft Word viewers to video players to spreadsheets--with more to be unveiled this week.
Coupled with Java, which Navigator 2.0 also supports, Netscape plug-ins are part of a two-pronged strategy to turn the Web browser into a multipurpose, multimedia collaboration tool, said Ira Machefsky, research analyst at Giga Information Group, a market research firm based in Santa Clara, California.
"People are taking software they've written for Windows and Mac and porting it to the browser [as plug-ins]," Machefsky said. "One of the key battles you'll see is between Netscape and Microsoft for who has the most successful architecture. Microsoft is trying to KO Netscape."
Next week, Microsoft will take the Internet podium at the very same venue as Netscape's event when it hosts its Professional Developers Conference at San Francisco's Moscone Center. The Redmond, Washington-based company will try to win support there for its Object Linking and Embedding Custom controls (OCX) architecture, which also enables applets to be run through its forthcoming Internet Explorer 3.0 browser.
But the two companies' architectures may not be totally incompatible. A plug-in by Excite called NCompass allows Netscape Navigator 2.0 to run OCXs. The software is available on Excite's Web page.
At the Netscape Internet Developers Conference, the following plug-ins will
--Starlight Networks will announce StarView, a plug-in for Unix, Windows, and Macintosh that allows users to run full-frame multimedia applications that combine 30 frames per second MPEG, as well as Indeo, AVI, Motion JPEG, and QuickTime. The plug-in requires a mixed media server run by Starlight's StarWorks or StarWare networking software and will be available later this month from the company's home page.
--Totally Hip Software will announce the availability of Sizzler, a plug-in for streaming live animations and video over the Internet. The software can be downloaded from the company's home page now.