Netscape bids to dominate fed intranets

Netscape Communications Corp. which has dominated the federal browser market with its Navigator product has revamped both its browser and client/server products as part of a move to capture part of the blooming intranet market.

The compa-ny's newest browser dubbed Communicator has integrated Navigator 4.0 with electronic mail groupware Hypertext Markup Language authoring and calendar tools. Netscape's next generation of client servers - SuiteSpot 3.0 - will include six new servers handling network-based applications messaging cataloging public key certification directories and audio/visual streaming among other things.

Both products will begin shipping in the first quarter of 1997 according to Peter Thorp Netscape's federal manager. The commercial price for the standard edition of Netscape Communicator is $49 with the professional edition selling for $79. With SuiteSpot 3.0 customers can choose to buy individual servers for $995 or bundle any five for $3 995. However Thorp said government pricing expected to be available in November will be "much more aggressive."

The announcements which were made during Netscape's developer conference in New York will have a significant effect on the government market because Navigator 4.0 no longer will be offered separately from Communicator.

Although the true extent of Netscape's governmentwide presence has yet to be documented it is believed to be the largest provider of browsers to agencies.

Thorp said the government has "wholeheartedly adopted" Navigator technology adding that he expects Communicator to receive the same reception. He cited several recent large government purchases of Navigator including: the Agriculture Department's purchase of 18 000 copies the Environmental Protection Agency's 22 000-copy buy NASA's 25 000-copy purchase and the House of Representatives' 10 000-copy purchase.

"You're adding more robustness to what's already there " Thorp said. "It gives people a lot more bang for their buck."

Netscape senior vice president of technology Marc Andreessen characterized the emerging intranets as the "third generation of the Net." He said new open-standards-based technologies will allow existing Netscape users to "embrace and integrate" these products into existing platforms.

As for government agencies Netscape regional manager John Menkhart said the tools will allow agencies to communicate among themselves and their constituencies more effectively.

"The beauty of this solution is that by adopting the open standards for things like rich messaging [and] Collabra...the government gets a lot more leverage out of this " Menkhart said.

"The move here is to provide additional functionality - applications that have never before been available. We're basically supporting what was the killer app for 1996 " he added.

For example he said the Patent and Trademark Office which has a site license for Navigator and which also is using groupware would be able to start using applications that reside within HTML rather than applications that reside on the desktop.

PTO could then build content in increments and add additional content as needed.Additional features of Communicator include: * Integrated e-mail and electronic group discussions in one in-box.* Support of absolute positioning layering style sheets and HTML fonts.* Support of Java on many platforms with performance enhancements.* Multiple-level authorization with signed applets and plug-ins.* Mail searching and sorting on computer or server* Real-time user interaction on the same documents whiteboarding and data exchange.

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