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Netscape touts "Customer Choice"

The company's campaign offers Netizens instructions for downloading its client software and uninstalling Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.

Netscape has launched its campaign dubbed "Customer Choice," which offers Netizens instructions for downloading Netscape Communicator client software and uninstalling Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.

Last week, Netscape chief executive Jim Barksdale outlined the campaign at the company's Mountain View headquarters, and its launch has been expected.

Starting later this week, users will be able to click on "Netscape Now" buttons from "thousands of major Internet sites" and link immediately to the Netscape software download and "Customer Choice" page, the company said in a statement. The company also plans to give OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) a chance to offer links from a desktop icon to the information. It did not identify any of them.

Netscape's software download and customer choice page also provides instructions for uninstalling Microsoft's IE 3.0 and 4.0.

The company said the campaign builds on the "Netscape Now" program, which includes more than 35,000 Web sites.

"It seems like a public relations stunt with no substance," said a Microsoft spokesman. "Consumers always have had complete and total freedom of choice to use any browser they want."

Netscape remains the dominant browser supplier, but Microsoft is gaining ground. At the same time, the Justice Department is suing Microsoft, alleging that the company violated a 1995 court order by forcing PC makers to license and distribute IE as a condition of licensing Microsoft's Windows 95. The software giant denies the charges.

As part of the case, the judge hearing the suit said last week that it took him only 90 seconds to uninstall IE 3.0, one of the more interesting revelations in the case. Microsoft has argued that one is an integral part of the other.