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Netscape punches back

Seeking to upstage Microsoft's latest version of Internet Explorer, Netscape posted word that a new version of Navigator will be released in seven days.

    Seeking to upstage Microsoft's 3.0 version of Internet Explorer, Netscape Communications has posted word that the latest version of its own browser will be released in seven days.

    On Monday, Netscape also plans to counter Microsoft by detailing partnerships with content providers that are designed to deliver customized information services to users. Although the company would not disclose the content providers, the services will use the multimedia capabilities of Navigator's integrated Usenet news and email clients, which, like Web pages, can include embedded HTML, graphics, and Java applets, a spokeswoman said.

    Content providers could use Netscape email, for example, to "push" or send Web pages to users rather than requiring them to manually surf to a site. In contrast, Microsoft's Internet Mail and News software does not support the breadth of multimedia capabilities in Navigator.

    In its posting, Netscape emphasized its considerable lead in the browser market and its efforts to retain that lead, but Microsoft's vast resources and its strategy of giving away Internet Explorer for free, which Netscape used to do, is threatening Navigator's hegemony.

    "Next Monday, Netscape will take the wraps of the final version of Navigator 3.0 and reveal why Internet Explorer has a long way to go," screams a headline on Netscape's home page that went up this week. "Today, we'll give you a preview."

    Netscape added that in the last six months Navigator has become the most popular computer application ever. Navigator, which Netscape insists is "more than just a browser," is faster, more secure, requires less memory, and is available on 16 platforms.

    The beta 7 version of Navigator 3.0 downloads both Netscape's and Microsoft's home pages faster than Internet Explorer 3.0's beta 2, Netscape claims, even faster, ironically, for Microsoft's home page (64 percent) than for Netscape's (38 percent).

    Netscape still retains the greater market share. In March, market researcher Dataquest said Netscape had 84 percent market share for Web browsers.

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