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Netscape does deal with AOL

In a victory over chief competitor Microsoft, Netscape Communications won a licensing deal with America Online today for its Navigator browser and instantly gained more than 5 million new users.

In a victory over chief competitor Microsoft, Netscape Communications won a licensing deal with America Online today for its Navigator browser and instantly gained more than 5 million new users.

The agreement stipulates that all users of AOL's GNN Internet access service will soon be moved to the Navigator browser but will continue to have access to AOL's "Best of the Net" package, which includes Web directories, search tools, customer support, and publishing applications. In return, AOL, the leading online service, will figure prominently on Netscape's own Web site.

The deal is similar to one Netscape signed with CompuServe on Friday. CompuServe, the number-two online service, will distribute Navigator to its 4 million subscribers for surfing the World Wide Web from the CompuServe connection.

Netscape reportedly beat out Microsoft for both deals. Microsoft executives purportedly wooed the online services at the last minute to pick the company's own Internet Explorer over Navigator. But Navigator already commands 80 percent of the Web browser market, and both online services ended up opting for the known quantity.

"We are committed to embracing the best and most popular technologies and tools available," AOL Chairman and CEO Steve Case said in a prepared statement.

Netscape also recently reached Navigator licensing agreements with Internet service providers NetCom Online Communications Services and Concentric Research.