RealTime IT News

AOL Unleashes Netscape 6 Browser

America Online Inc. Wednesday previewed the release of its Netscape 6 browser. The maker of the Web-browsing software at the center of the U.S. government's antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. unveiled a leaner version of its programming code, reducing the overall size of the browser.

As a part of the browser launch, America Online (AOL) and Gateway Inc. plan to introduce a family of specialized Internet appliances to promote AOL's instant access strategy. Both Netscape 6 and the new Internet appliances are powered by Netscape's Gecko browser engine technology.

In contrast to Internet Explorer's focus on Windows, Netscape's ubiquitous Gecko browser will run not only on Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows platforms, but also the Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) and Macintosh and Linux operating systems, the two chief rivals to Windows. Netscape 6 is also programmed to work on Internet devices like TV set-top boxes and Web-based kiosks.

Steve Case, AOL chairman and chief executive officer, touted the browser's open source code that enables users to take the Internet with them, anywhere they go.

"Our next-generation Netscape 6 browser will provide consumers with new opportunities to enjoy the versatility of the interactive medium, anywhere, anytime and any way they want," Case said.

"Powered by the open source Gecko technology, Netscape 6 will deliver more robust and lively content with new levels of speed, convenience and customization, and will allow people to take advantage of innovative new applications that reside on the Web, not just on their desktops," Case added.

In his keynote Wednesday at Spring Internet World 2000, Case said he hoped the new browser will be adopted aggressively. To help in that goal, the company will soon kick off an aggressive television and print advertising campaign. The effort will mark Netscape's first large marketing foray outside the Internet.

Programmers tossed the old code and started fresh to design Netscape 6, which features faster to downloads and streamlined installation. Users can download additional components for e-mail or Internet phone calling, but exclude other items, reducing the overall size of the browser.

Barry Schuler, AOL president of interactive services, said Netscape 6 and its Gecko browser engine will fuel the next wave of the Internet that will run on multiple platforms and many devices in addition to the traditional PC.

"Built from the ground up, Netscape 6 is a completely new browser that delivers a more robust and lively Internet experience," Schuler said.

"Gecko not only powers our new browser, but also anchors the mission critical technology that enables consumers and businesses to access the Internet from anywhere."

Expounding on the product features at Internet World, Schuler said the streamlined Gecko browsing engine addresses the fact that much of the Internet's activity growth will focus outside the PC sector.

"PCs will continue to be important, but there will also be a wide variety of devices. The browsing engine of the future needs to be multi-platform and multi-device. It will become the module on which people can build software," he said.

New to Netscape 6 are a variety of user options including "My Sidebar," a fully customizable feature that lets consumers keep the online functions and information from a variety of sources. Already several content providers including