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Netscape plans counter-attack as browser share falls again

But Microsoft needs AOL to achieve leadership for IE

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Netscape's share of the browser market fell again in the first half of this year, according to an IDC survey. Depending on how you count it, the company may still be ahead of Microsoft, but even if you count it the other way Netscape is taking steps to correct the situation. On raw figures, Netscape's share fell from 51 per cent at the end of 1997 to 42 per cent by mid-year. Microsoft's rose from 23 per cent to 28 per cent, while others rose from 11 per cent to 15 per cent. So that's not terminal for Netscape. But the share for AOL's browser, which is based on Microsoft Internet Explorer, was 16 per cent, giving us a total for IE of 44 per cent - just a little bit ahead of Netscape. Netscape could think of this as a defeat, but Microsoft's relatively slow progress under its own steam and its dependence on a deal with AOL to make the numbers are grounds for optimism. ISPs will (under normal circumstances, pace the DoJ) cut the most advantageous deal they can for browsers, so although AOL would now be a tricky one for Netscape to crack, it might be able to break back via other ISPs. Which is one of the things it's doing this week. It's announcing a deal that allows ISPs to use its Netcenter site to customise its Communicator, and then have 3M produce CDs with their customised version on them. It's also teaming up with HP to offer ISPs consulting services. HP itself has finally decided to take a pop at Sun in the server department, and Netscape proposes to hitch a ride. ® Click for more stories

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