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Netscape's Andreessen Plugs JavaScript

SAN FRANCISCO--In a keynote speech to attendees at the Web Innovation show here this morning, Netscape Communications vice president Marc Andreessen took the opportunity to plug JavaScript, a new Web scripting language announced earlier today by Sun Microsystems, and downplay Microsoft's Visual Basic.

JavaScript, which is included in the third beta version of Navigator 2.0, will work on both client and server systems and is aimed at HTML page authors as well as programmers. "We think this will take Java to a whole new level, along with the Net," said Andreessen.

Designed to complement Java, the scripting language can be used to embed Java applets with Web pages. "Scripts can be set up to run whenever a page is entered or left," said Andreessen.

On Thursday, rival Microsoft will hold a day-long event in Redmond, Washington, focusing on positioning Visual Basic as an alternative to Java. In a move to head off comparisons in advance, Andreessen said, "We think JavaScript will go up pretty strongly against Visual Basic. Visual Basic forces you to use OCXs, which are very Windows 95-centric. It also gives you no way to enforce safety."

"I think Microsoft will eventually adopt JavaScript. It'll just take them a while," said Andreessen. When the audience broke into laughter at this, Andreessen paused and said, "No really, I'm serious."

On the tool side, Andreessen spoke briefly about Navigator Gold 2.0, an upcoming upgrade that will add WYSIWYG editing, along with site- and link-management utilities.