Netscape Communications (NSCP)
has bolstered the corporate features of its Communicator
product, as well as the number of platforms it supports.
Today, the company announced that it has posted on the Net the first
beta version of Communicator Professional Edition, a souped-up version of
its browser and email software for business users. Netscape also posted a
beta version of its Messaging Server 3.0, the final piece of its SuiteSpot
3.0 servers to be released.
As previously reported by CNET, Netscape last weekend posted a public beta
version of the standard edition of Communicator, called "preview release
2," for Unix, Macintosh, and Windows 3.1. The company also posted a new
Windows 95 and Windows NT version of Communicator, also called preview
release 2, almost two months after releasing the first beta version for the
Microsoft operating systems.
The standard editions of Communicator include "feature parity" for all
layering, lightweight directory access protocol, and other features that
have been available to Windows 95 and NT users of Communicator since
However, the professional version of Communicator comes with several
additional features aimed at business users, including Calendar, a group
scheduling program, and IBM 3270 Host On-Demand, a program for accessing
IBM host computers. Professional Edition also has a feature, called
AutoAdmin, that allows systems administrators to centrally manage the
configuration and preferences of Communicator.
Professional Edition is available for Windows 3.1, Windows 95 and NT, and
Macintosh, though not for Unix. The standard edition of Communicator is
available on all of those platforms, including Unix.
Although Navigator versions for the Mac, Unix, and Windows 3.1 have often
lagged behind the other Windows releases, Netscape still has a better
cross-platform track record than its chief browser competitor, Microsoft (MSFT).
Microsoft, for example, released beta versions of Internet Explorer 3.0 for
Windows 3.1 five months after posting a beta for Window 95; the Mac version
didn't appear until six months later. The software giant still has not
released a Unix version of Internet Explorer 3.0 to the public. Netscape,
on the other hand, has long prided itself on the claim that its software
runs on more platforms than Microsoft's.
Netscape appears to have a healthy head start on Microsoft's next version
of its browser, Internet Explorer 4.0. A Windows 95 version of that release
is not expected to go into beta testing until the middle of March, and
Microsoft has been noncommittal about its plans to create versions for
Last week, Netscape released the new beta of Communicator only to members
of its DevEdge Gold program. But last weekend, the company quietly posted
the Communicator beta for the general public.