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Star Trek open to Navigators

Paramount bows to complaints from Netizens and makes more Star Trek content available to Macintosh and Netscape Navigator users.

Bowing to Netizens' complaints of an exclusive deal with Microsoft, Paramount is making more content from its highly popular Star Trek Web site available for Macintosh and Netscape Navigator users.

The new deal calls for IBM to be Paramount's technology partner and charter sponsor of Paramount's Star Trek: Continuum Web site. Paramount is owned by media giant Viacom.

"Formerly available exclusively on Microsoft Network, Star Trek: Continuum is now available to millions of additional fans," Paramount said in a statement. "As before, access is available for Windows 95/Internet Explorer browser users; however, for the first time, a version of the site is now available for Macintosh and Netscape users."

Paramount said the deal with MSN expired at year's end and was not renewed.

"We had multiyear agreement with them, and we chose not to renew," said Ed Graczyk, product manager for the Microsoft Network. "We were happy working with them."

In coming months, IBM and Paramount plan to make the site's entire content lineup available to Navigator users with events, chats, activities, information, and sale of products. Netscape remains the dominant browser supplier, although Microsoft is gaining ground.

"Star Trek fans spoke, and we listened," said David Wertheimer, president of Paramount Digital Entertainment. "The union with IBM confirms our commitment to our audience to provide universal access to [the] site."

As previously reported by CNET's NEWS.COM, the best content from the site was available only through Microsoft's IE browser, angering some users. The IE-only angle rekindled a mounting concern expressed by some Netizens and even lawmakers of Microsoft's growing power in the delivery of information on the Internet. They worry that it will accelerate as the company integrates IE into its Windows operating system.

Microsoft denies those charges. The company says it is not demanding any exclusivity in these deals and that IE is being chosen because of its technology capabilities, such as a full range of animation and sound. It also pointed out that while there was "limited functionality" with Netscape Navigator, the site still could be accessed by users with the Navigator browser.

As recently as last month, MSN pointed to the Star Trek site on its free Web page, with the message: "Star Trek: Continuum is now on the Web! Available now for Windows 95 and Internet Explorer!" That link is no longer available.