Netscape to uncage Gecko

Netscape will seek this week to allay developer fears that its acquisition by America Online will hamper its Mozilla.org open-source project by releasing its Gecko Web browser engine at no charge. Netscape says Gecko offers high performance, modularity, and support for HTML 4.0, Extensible Markup Language, Cascading Style Sheets, and Resource Description Framework standards. Netscape designed the engine to be small -- it fits on a floppy disk -- so it can be embedded on multiple devices such as fax machines, televisions, palm devices, and cellular phones.

Netscape will seek this week to allay developer fears that its acquisition by America Online will hamper its Mozilla.org open-source development project, by releasing its Gecko Web browser engine to developers at no charge.

Originally code-named Next-Generation Technology, Gecko offers high performance; modularity; and support for HTML 4.0, Extensible Markup Language, Cascading Style Sheets, and Resource Description Framework standards.

Netscape designed the engine to be extremely small -- it fits on a floppy disk -- so it can be embedded on multiple devices such as fax machines, televisions, palm devices, and cellular phones, company executives said.

"[Gecko] will let anyone access Web content from any operating system, device, or application," a Netscape representative said.

Gecko will be initially released on Macintosh, Windows, and Linux platforms, but it is designed to be easily ported to any OS.

According to Netscape executives, AOL's interest in moving to set-top boxes will boost Gecko's momentum, and AOL will be one of the first companies to use the engine by incorporating it into the next version of its Internet chat software.

"Bringing the browser to multiple devices will help maintain its value," said Michael Sullivan-Trainor, an analyst at IDC.

Gecko was developed in conjunction with Mozilla.org and can be downloaded from that site.

Netscape also plans to announce this week several new versions of its CommerceXpert products: ECXpert 2.0, ECXpert Enterprise 2.0 and TradingXpert 2.0.

ECXpert is a business process management system that lets users control data and transactions from multiple business partners. ECXpert Enterprise offers additional Open Buying on the Internet support, as well as several C++ APIs included within a software development kit.

Netscape is also offering several ECXpert extensions to connect the application to enterprise resource planning systems.

Netscape's TradingXpert is a new product that provides hosting capabilities for the creation of a Web-based trading community.

"If you have trading partners with only a browser, they can securely trade with you," said Jim Adkins, director of the Application Products Division at Netscape.

ECXpert costs US$75,000, with ECXpert Enterprise at $125,000 and ECXpert Extensions starting at $25,000. TradingXpert is priced at $100,000. All products are available now for Solaris. Future releases will support Windows NT and HP-UX.

Netscape Communications Corp., in Mountain View, California, is at www.netscape.com.

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