PC makers may already be enjoying the effects of the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit against Microsoft , with both Gateway 2000 and NEC choosing alternatives to exclusively bundling Microsoft's Internet Explorer with their PCs.
Gateway, with permission from Microsoft, strayed from the software giant's product path in two ways this week. When users open up the Internet connection on a new Gateway PC, they will be directed to Gateway's own Internet service rather than going directly to Microsoft's service.
In addition, users will be able to choose which browser they want, as both Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator will be bundled on systems running Windows 98.
"Netscape is the preferred browser for corporate intranets," one Gateway official said. "So how else are these people going to get it?"
Meanwhile, NEC has decided to eschew the practice of pre-loading a browser entirely. The company will offer both Explorer and Navigator on a CD bundled with systems rather than loading it onto the hard drive.
On the other end of spectrum, Microsoft loyalist Dell Computer offers Internet Explorer as the default browser, and charges an extra fee for installation of the Netscape Navigator browser, which is a free product, according to company officials.
When asked whether it would ever offer a level playing field for the two competing browsers, one Dell official said, "We can't speculate on what we will do down the road, but right now we don't."
Gateway Inc., in North Sioux City, S.D., can be reached at http://www.gateway.com. NEC Corp., in Boxborough, Mass., can be reached at http://www.nec.com. Dell Computer Corp., in Round Rock, Texas, can be reached at http://www.dell.com.