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HP, Netscape get closer

A cozy relationship just got cozier. The HP 9000 Enterprise Server will ship with Netscape Web software.

Hewlett-Packard (HWP) and Netscape Communications (NSCP) today strengthened their already close relationship, announcing that the HP 9000 Enterprise Server and workstation will ship with Netscape's entry-level FastTrack Web server software and Navigator Gold client software.

Netscape's technology for Web serving, authoring, and browsing is being built into HP's version of the Unix operating system, HP-UX. HP disclosed that it is discussing a similar bundling deal with Netscape for HP's Intel-based line of servers, but said no agreement has been announced.

Netscape's technology will be available at no charge to new customers, while those with HP management contracts can download the Netscape software from the Web or get it on a CD-ROM.

"In the future, and the not-too-distant future, you will not be able to run a computer without Web services," HP marketing manager Bob Parse said. HP is telling software developers who write middleware and applications for HP-UX that they should assume users will have Web services, rather than build them in.

"This is the next step in making the Netscape-Hewlett Packard relationship a cradle-to-grave solution," said Srivats Sampath, vice president of marketing for Netscape's server products. "We see FastTrack as an entry point for Web services. Combined with HP-UX, it is an extremely strong seeding of the market."

The partnership's explicit goal is to get customers on the Web quickly and allow them to set up simple intranet applications. However, the pact also is designed to upgrade sales for both partners. Netscape hopes companies that start with its FastTrack Web server will eventually move up to its industrial-strength Enterprise Server and SuiteSpot Web applications.

For HP, the 9000 series of hardware serves as a stepping stone to its Domain Enterprise server family, which comes with Netscape's SuiteSpot and Informix's database software.

Although the agreement is not exclusive, both sides characterized it as stronger than OEM relationships Netscape has with Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, and 70 other hardware vendors.

Today's announcement builds on a wide-ranging HP-Netscape relationship announced last May. HP also provides worldwide technical support for Netscape software, has its consultants offer Netscape solutions, and runs a Netscape training program for customers.