Fight to Supply Standard Internet Browser Heats Up

From Reuters

The war to be the company that supplies the standard software for the Internet is intensifying as Microsoft Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp. battle to make their product the main Net-surfing browser.

Late Thursday, Mountain View, Calif.-based Netscape appeared to have scored a point when sources close to the discussions said Netscape and CompuServe Inc. would today announce an alliance in which CompuServe would make available the Netscape Navigator Internet browser in addition to Microsoft's browser to its subscribers.

Sources said the Netscape browser would be included with CompuServe software scheduled for release this spring.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft was trying to persuade America Online Inc. to bundle its Internet Explorer software as AOL's main software for browsing the World Wide Web, instead of joining forces with Netscape for its Navigator. The newspaper said that AOL has been in talks recently with Netscape about a forming such an alliance.

A spokeswoman for Vienna, Va.-based America Online declined to comment.

But she said AOL was always engaged in talks about possible alliances.

A Netscape spokeswoman declined to comment on any specifics.

In trading Thursday, Netscape shares fell $6.25 to $38.75, and Microsoft gained 31.25 cents to $97.3125. Both trade on Nasdaq.

Netscape's Navigator is the most popular browser software for surfing the Web, with 80% of the market.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer has garnered 850,000 users since its unveiling.

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