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Netscape gets on the FastTrack

Netscape introduced a new of version its FastTrack Server software today that will turn Windows 95 into a personal Web server.

Netscape Communications today introduced a new of version its FastTrack Server software that will turn Windows 95 into a personal Web server.

Like the native file sharing facilities in Windows 95, Netscape's FastTrack Server allows PC users to designate any file, including HTML, Word, and Lotus 1-2-3 documents, for sharing among other users on a local area network. But FastTrack Server for Windows 95 allows users on any platform to access files, not just Windows 95.

Microsoft, too, has announced its intentions to offer a personal Web server in a future version of Windows 95. True to form, the Redmond, Washington company will bundle the server for free into its operating system, as it has done with Internet Information Server (IIS) and Windows NT Server. Microsoft also plans to bundle a Web server with Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.

In recent weeks, Netscape and Microsoft have exchanged heated letters over a licensing restriction for NT Workstation that limits to ten the number of users that can connect to Workstation. Netscape and other companies that offer Web servers that run on NT Workstation have complained that the restriction effectively eliminates it as a Web server. The same user restriction does not apply to Windows 95 Web servers.

Netscape, which is planning to sell its server for $295, isn't daunted by Microsoft's Windows 95 Web server plans, claiming that FastTrack Server for Windows 95 will offer more capabilities than Microsoft's Windows 95 server, such as Java, JavaScript, and Netscape API (NSAPI) support.

"One of things we all should recognize is that as you move farther away from NT server, Microsoft gives you a less functional product," said David Pann, senior product manager for server marketing at Netscape. "The Web server they put in [Windows 95] will also be crippled."

A beta version of FastTrack Server for Windows 95 is currently available for free downloading on the Web.

Microsoft officials could not be reached by press time.

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