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Apple to bundle Explorer

Macworld Expo The cold war thaws: Apple strikes a deal with Microsoft to bundle Internet Explorer 3.0 with the Mac OS.

Macworld Expo SAN FRANCISCO--The cold war between Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple Computer (AAPL) thawed a bit at Macworld this week.

Microsoft said today that Apple has agreed to bundle its Internet Explorer 3.0 browser with the Mac OS, a deal that could give Microsoft a leg up in its battle to win browser market share from Netscape Communications. However, the deal will not affect an existing browser bundling agreement between Netscape and Apple, a Netscape spokeswoman said today.

"It certainly doesn't negate any arrangement we have with Apple," the Netscape spokeswoman said. "We have a very strong relationship with them."

Tonight Microsoft will also post a beta version of Personal Web Server for the Mac. The server will allow users to set up Web sites on their workstations. The server, which requires less than 1 MB of memory, is based on technology Microsoft acquired last year from Resnova.

The browser deal is the latest in a series of aggressive moves by Microsoft to promote Explorer to users. The software giant has already cut bundling deals with hundreds of Internet services providers, including America Online, CompuServe, and AT&T, to make Explorer the preferred browser for those services.

Apple's bundling deal with Microsoft will lead to a jumble of browser options on Mac systems. Navigator is currently bundled with Apple's OS, and, later this month, Apple's own CyberDog Internet suite will be incorporated in the Mac OS.

According to Kevin Unangst, a product manager at Microsoft, Explorer 3.0 for the Mac will initially be bundled on a line of Macs targeted at small business due out later this quarter. Later in the year, Apple will bundle Explorer with all of its Macs, Unangst said.

The impact of Microsoft's bundling deals is unclear so far. Some Web sites, such as BrowserWatch, indicate that Explorer and Navigator are approaching the same market share figures. In contrast, a survey done by the Georgia Tech Graphics, Visualization, and Usability Center reports that 80.45 percent of users will be using Navigator in 12 months, while only 12.12 percent will be using Explorer.