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Netscape overhauls server lineup

As expected, Netscape today revamped its lineup of Web servers, rolling out aggressive price cuts for existing offerings and new products clearly intended to one-up Microsoft's recently introduced Internet server.

As expected, Netscape today revamped its lineup of Web servers, rolling out aggressive price cuts for existing offerings and new products clearly intended to one-up Microsoft's recently introduced Internet server.

As previously reported by CNET, the company dropped the price of its Web server for Windows NT and Unix including support for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption to $295. Renamed today the FastTrack Server, the product includes support for SSL 3.0--an upgraded version of Netscape's software for encrypting communications across the Internet--and the Netscape Navigator Gold 2.0 HTML editing software.

Although Netscape said that the FastTrack Server was officially a replacement for its low-end Communications Server, which was priced at $495 but did not include SSL support, the FastTrack server more closely resembles the SSL-enabled Commerce Server. The Commerce Server was priced at $1,295 for its Windows NT version and $2,995 for the Unix version.

Netscape's price cuts on its entry-level server were prompted by an increasingly competitive market, which was jolted last month when Microsoft started giving away its Windows NT Web server, the Internet Information Server, for free. Like the new FastTrak Server, IIS includes SSL encryption support.

"No matter what [Netscape] says is replacing what, the bottom line is they're offering an SSL-enabled server for a few hundred dollars. This is more of the same downward spiral [in cost]...I think they see security as essential [for all of their Web servers]," said Adam Schoenfeld, vice president and senior analyst at Jupiter Communications in New York.

To fill the high end of its product spectrum, Netscape introduced the $995 Enterprise Server 2.0, a Web server for Windows NT and Unix that comes bundled with Netscape Navigator Gold 2.0, Verity's text search engine, the LiveWire site management and development tools, MKS Integrity Engine document management software, and SSL 3.0 support. An even more extensive version of Enterprise Server priced at $1,495 comes with LiveWire Pro, a version of LiveWire that includes the Informix Online database for developers.

MKS Integrity Engine, which was shipped today also as a standalone product by Mortice Kern Systems, provides intranet users with version control facilities for Web pages so that updates and changes can be more easily tracked and documented. The software provides detailed audit trails for pages, editing-access controls, and archiving capabilities.

And to refute Microsoft's claim that its new Internet Information Server serves static pages faster than Netscape's server, Netscape announced that both the FastTrack Server and the new Enterprise Server will feature a next-generation HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) engine that greatly improves the previous server products' performance.

Both servers include Java and JavaScript support so that developers can create server-side database applications such as credit-card authorization applets.

The company said that beta copies of FastTrack Server and Enterprise Server will be available for free 90-day evaluation testing later this month on Netscape's Web site and will be available commercially in the second quarter.

But that's not all.

Netscape also took a bold step to move into Microsoft and Lotus Development's backyard with the introduction of SuiteSpot, a server bundle that will directly target Microsoft's Exchange messaging server and Lotus Notes groupware. SuiteSpot is intended to provide a complete set of server applications for corporations that want to run enterprise applications and groupware collaboration off their intranet. SuiteSpot will sell for $3,995 for Windows NT and Unix versions and will include Enterprise Server 2.0, LiveWire Pro, Mail Server, News Server, Proxy Server 2.0, and the Catalog Server just announced today.

Catalog Server builds a centralized index of all the content on scattered Web servers across an intranet or the Internet itself so companies can more easily distribute content. It will also sell as a standalone offering in the second quarter priced at $995.