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Rivals bark more than bite

Netscape and Microsoft got tough with each other over a price comparison on Netscape's Web site, but, in the end, the dispute didn't come to blows.

Although the two archrivals got tough with each other, a dispute between Netscape Communications and Microsoft over a price comparison on Netscape's Web site didn't come to blows Thursday.

In a July 30 letter from Microsoft lawyers, the company had demanded that by August 15 Netscape remove a chart from its Web site comparing the prices of Netscape FastTrack Server and Microsoft Internet Information Server. The Redmond, Washington company objected to the chart because it compared the cost of FastTrack Server running on Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and IIS running on Windows NT Server 4.0, a substantially more expensive operating system than its Workstation sibling.

NT Workstation comes with a licensing agreement that restricts to ten the number of Internet connections it can support and therefore shouldn't be used as a platform for Web servers, Microsoft argued. Netscape officials disagreed, saying that Microsoft was simply trying to force users onto the more expensive NT Server.

In the letter to Netscape, Microsoft said the price comparison between the two Web servers was "unfair and deceptive" and insisted that it be removed by yesterday.

"Please assure me by August 15, 1996, that you will cease and desist," wrote Robert Gomulkiewicz, senior corporate attorney at Microsoft.

The comparison chart remains on Netscape's Web site today.

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