Netscape has announced a standards-based platform and set of development tools aimed at enabling software companies to create applications for corporate intranets and the Internet.
The tools called Netscape ONE (Open Network Environment), which Netscape will give away free, will enable developers to create applications which run on most operating systems.
"The Netscape ONE platform unifies the open, publicly-defined standards that are the foundation of Netscape's leading software products," says Marc Andeessen, senior vice-president of technology at Netscape. The new platform brings together Internet standards such as HTTP, HTML, LDAP and Java into one unified developer package.
As of this week, 21 companies have licensed Netscape ONE, including Adobe, Borland, Silicon Graphics, Symantec and Macromedia, but some analysts don't think these companies are enough to make Netscape ONE the industry standard it is setting out to be.
"The vendors who've licensed the technology aren't mainstream vendors," says Mike Kennedy, programme director for research firm, The Meta Group. "Plus, licensing a technology is different than delivering products that use it," Kennedy says. More companies will have to jump on the Netscape ONE bandwagon, he says, before it poses a real threat to Microsoft's ActiveX development architecture for creating component-based applications. "It's a good first step for Netscape, but a lot still needs to be delivered," says Kennedy.
Microsoft's ActiveX is similar to the CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) technology included in the Netscape ONE platform because both can be used to facilitate communuications between software objects and applications. ActiveX works only on Windows machines while CORBA has been ported to multiple operating systems.
In a separate announcement, Microsoft says it will transfer control of ActiveX to an independent group of customers and neutral organisations, reportedly to dispel beliefs that ActiveX is a proprietary technology tied to the Windows platform.
Netscape can be reached on the World Wide Web at http://home.netscape.com.