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Barksdale sees a simpler Net

Next year software vendors will deliver the tools to make the Net easier to use, says Netscape CEO James Barksdale.

NEW YORK--This year the Internet became a household word. Next year software vendors will deliver the tools to make the Net easier to use, said James Barksdale, CEO of Netscape Communications, at an Internet World keynote presentation this morning.

"Next year is when the world really catches fire with Web-based email and groupware applications," Barksdale predicted, noting the 75 million people now use email. "Equipped with email that does HTML (the Web's lingua franca), you can push rich information to them."

Barksdale, of course, used the next generation of his own company's Navigator client software, called Communicator, as an example of the more useful Net software to come. The tool integrates Web browsing with email, audio conferencing, collaboration software, and calendaring.

"With the Internet, things are getting easier, more open, instead of more closed. That is the compelling energy behind the Net," Barksdale said.

Though he restated Netscape's support for the "100 percent pure Java" initiative unveiled this week by Sun Microsystems' JavaSoft unit, he didn't address the hottest rhetoric of the show, the verbal battle between JavaSoft and Microsoft over Java purity.

Barksdale's presentation included demonstrations of Communicator and SuiteTools--the set of software tools, mostly from other vendors--that Netscape unveiled this week as its tools offering.

In addition to Netscape's own LiveWire Pro for managing a Web site, SuiteTools includes NetObjects' Fusion 2.0 to build sites, NetDynamics' NetDynamics for Java-based connectivity to databases, and Symantec's Visual Caf? Pro to create Java applets.

"The strategy is to build Web sites easily, leverage existing code and expertise, and partner with strategic tools vendors to give a complete solution," Barksdale said.