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Netscape to Microsoft: take that!

Netscape plans to fight back against Microsoft's recent attacks on its Internet turf by announcing on March 5 an aggressive price cutting plan for its server software, sources familiar with the company's product plans told CNET Wednesday.

Netscape is planning to fight back against Microsoft's recent attacks on its Internet turf by announcing on March 5 an aggressive price cutting plan for its server software, sources familiar with the company's product plans told CNET Wednesday.

The second part of Netscape's two-pronged assault will come sometime in the next quarter when it releases the next major upgrade of its Navigator browser, the sources added. The browser will add an integrated CollabraShare groupware client to provide easy access to discussion groups and VRML viewing capabilities to navigate through 3D environments.

But first Netscape will drop the price of its Commerce Server for Windows NT to $295. The company is also considering dropping the price of its Unix server to $295, but has not yet made a final decision. Netscape currently charges $1,295 for Commerce Server for NT and $2,995 for the Unix version. Netscape will also offer a $995 Web server software bundle for Windows NT and Unix that will include, among other software, the Commerce Server, an Informix relational database, and LiveWire server management software.

Microsoft last week shook the Internet server market up when it started giving away for free its Internet Information Server (IIS) for Windows NT. The Redmond, Washington, giant particularly targeted Netscape's Commerce Server by citing benchmark tests that claimed better server performance for IIS.

In addition to the price cut, the March 5 announcement will detail version 2.0 of Netscape's Commerce Server, which is being designed to improve performance by including Java and JavaScript capabilities. This will let developers create back-end applications without having to use common gateway interface (CGI) scripts, which are known to bog down performance.