Netscape heats up browser war with free software

Netscape Communications has confirmed weeks of speculation by announcing that it will offer free software for its Navigator and Communicator applications. In a flurry of company statements yesterday, Netscape said it would offer 4.0 editions of both software packages now and also will make its source code for the next version of Netcape Communicator available for free licensing. Communicator 5.0 is expected to be out this quarter. In what it is terming an 'aggressive' worldwide marketing campaign, Netscape also launched a range of new products and services in conjunction with the free software.

Netscape Communications has confirmed weeks of speculation by announcing that it will offer free software for its Navigator and Communicator applications. In a flurry of company statements yesterday, Netscape said it would offer 4.0 editions of both software packages now and also will make its source code for the next version of Netcape Communicator available for free licensing. Communicator 5.0 is expected to be out this quarter.

In what it is terming an "aggressive" worldwide marketing campaign, Netscape also launched a range of new products and services in conjunction with the free software:

-- Two enhanced subscription programs called Subcriber Advantage and Enterprise Subscription Program for enterprise customers. The programs will be available through the online Netscape Store and will give electronic notification of major upgrades to Communicator, access to a password protected site for downloading new software releases and promotions and discounts.

-- A premium services site on the company's Netcenter that includes products, services and information for members at no charge.

-- A "Choose Netscape" sweepstakes allowing users to download Communicator and Navigator for free and to register to win travel prizes, including a seven-night trip for two to a tropical resort.

-- An Unlimited Distribution program allowing thousands of original equipment manufacturers, Internet service providers, Web content providers, publishers, software developers and telecommunications companies to download and redistribute Communicator and Navigator with "no strings attached."

Netscape executives, including President Jim Barksdale, was to answer questions about the announcements from financial analysts, market analysts and the press in a teleconference later in the day.

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