IBM has confirmed that as of September, it will no longer make Netscape's Navigator browser the default for Aptiva PC buyers who sign up for IBM's Internet access service.
While IBM currently ships both Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Navigator pre-installed on its Aptiva machines, the company has been designating Navigator as the default whenever Aptiva owners used the IBM Internet Connection wizard to set up their Internet account. And the company will continue to do that on Aptivas that ship with Windows 98 in June.
But starting with PCs sold in September this year, the Internet setup wizard will use whatever browser has been set up as the default. Unless the user specifies otherwise, that'll have to be IE because Microsoft requires PC makers to ship Windows 98 machines with IE set as the default.
"It wasn't that we were trying to slam Netscape," explains Adam Wong, manager of strategy for IBM's Aptiva line. "IBM has tremendous respect for Netscape. We've tried a variety of different tweaks in the interest of making the box as easy to use as possible. We'll continue to provide our customers with the option to choose (Netscape's) browser. It is the belief of our technical people that this minor change may make it a bit easier for (customers)."
Recently, Gateway announced that it will enable new Windows 98 PC buyers to choose a default browser when they sign up for Gateway.net, the company's Internet service.
Wong says IBM will continue to ship Windows 98 Aptiva machines with both IE and Navigator loaded on their hard disks, and he points out that nothing prevents Aptiva owners from simultaneously using both browsers.