Netscape aims to make it easier for administrators to deploy customised versions of its Navigator Web browser on corporate intranets. This month the company will release the next version of Navigator, as well as its administrators' kit, priced at US$1995.
The kit will enable administrators to configure preferences within browsers before they are deployed to users' desktops. This is expected to dramatically reduce the support costs associated with a visit to each user's desk.
"It has been a heavily requested feature," says Edith Gong, product manager at Netscape. "This should save a lot of time and we expect it to cut down on support costs and phone calls to the help desk."
Using the kit, administrators will be able to configure the Navigator client to a particular email server or proxy server, for example. Administrators will also have the option of turning off Java support and the ability to lock configurations so users cannot change them once the browser has been deployed. For example, administrators will be able to lock the home page preference to their companies' intranets.
With the kit, administrators will be able to customise the six directory buttons under the toolbar that now lead users to Netscape's home page. This means they could set one button to lead users to the company's internal human resources department page and set another to lead to its research and development department page.
Administrators will even be able to customise the animated logo located in the top right-hand corner of the Navigator screen.
Netscape has already done this kind of browser customisation for several large customers, including AT&T. AT&T's WorldNet Internet access service uses a specially branded edition of Navigator. With the administrators' kit, Netscape will release that customisation capability to everyone.
"We're bringing this down to medium-size and small companies," Gong says.
The administrators' kit, scheduled for release this month, will work only with Navigator 3.0.