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Netscape goes onto the attack

Communicator makes it easier to elbow out IE and Microsoft

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Netscape has upset Microsoft with the Communicator 4.5 release 2 preview by making it very easy to set Communicator as the default browser. According to Dave Bottoms, the product manager, it is Netscape's intention to go after Windows users who were forced into Internet Explorer. The installation process puts icons for Navigator on the tool bar, for one-click access to Netscape's Navigator browser, the Messenger email client, and the Composer editing tool. And that's not all: it pops a Smart Update icon in the Windows Start menu to make it easy to download future upgrades, which may include non-Netscape software in the future. Although it was possible for users to change the automatic IE default browser settings by following a rather complex series on instructions on Netscape's Web site, relatively few people did this. Now Microsoft's Mike Nichols is complaining that what Netscape is doing is "creating this proprietary tie to their portal". It is but poetic justice that users are not first alerted that the default home page of IE is being changed. Netscape's Bottom says that "until now, Windows has restricted access from Netscape products." It was only a few weeks ago that RealNetworks, now a firm friend of Intel following its licensing of Intel's video compression technology, was the victim of Microsoft's alleged meddling with RealPlayer, in favour of Microsoft's Media Player. Zona Research's Julia Pickar said that fewer than ten per cent of home users changed their home page, but Netscape said that its research showed 40 to 50 per cent changing the browser from the default home page. ®

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