Netscape Helps Disable Microsoft Browser

Capitalizing on the legal wrangles faced by its browser rival, Netscape next week will provide a service on its Web site that helps users disable Microsoft's browser and install Netscape's Web-client software.

Capitalizing on the legal wrangles faced by its browser rival, Netscape next week will provide a service on its Web site that helps users disable Microsoft's browser and install Netscape's Web-client software.

Netscape will post a "customer choice" button on its Web site that walks users through the process of disabling Internet Explorer and installing either Netscape Navigator or the Communicator client suite, according to company officials.

The "choice button" will also be offered to Netscape's partners in a similar fashion to the Netscape Now button, which links to Netscape's client download pages from about 30,000 associate Web-site pages, one Netscape representative said.

Pricing for Navigator installed via the choice program will remain the same, including the 90-day, free-trial period, Netscape officials said. However, Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale said this week that the company may offer some of its products free, as does Microsoft with Explorer.

The initiatives are browser-market leader Netscape's way of aggressively trying to win back gains from Microsoft in the tumultuous Web-client wars. Recent court edicts and U.S. Department of Justice requests aim to bar Microsoft from marketing its browser in violation of a 1995 antitrust settlement.

Predictably, Microsoft officials dismissed Netscape's moves.

"This is just a publicity stunt without any substance," said Mark Murray, a Microsoft representative. "Consumers have always had complete freedom to choose use any browser they want."

Netscape Communications Corp., in Mountain View, California, can be reached at http://home.netscape.com/. Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at http://www.microsoft.com/.

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