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It's Good to be Free: Netscape Giving Browser Away

In a move aimed at tightening competition with Microsoft, which distributes its Internet Explorer browser for free, Netscape Communications announced today it will give its Communicator and Navigator software away under a new "Unlimited Distribution" initiative.

Netscape reports that OEMs, ISPs, Telcos, content providers, publishers, and others are now free to download and redistribute Netscape Communicator and Netscape Navigator with "no strings attached."

"Now that we have taken the aggressive step of making our client software free, our goal is to add millions of new users to our current client installed base of 68 million," said Mike Homer, executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, in a statement. "The Unlimited Distribution program is aimed at doing just that--making it easy for thousands of partners to freely distribute and millions of individuals to freely choose Netscape Navigator and Communicator."

Beginning tomorrow, the Netscape home page will feature a link to a page of instructions for participating in the program, and a special "distribution version" download option will be made available for the client software.

Netscape said it also plans to allow qualified partners to create a customized version of Netscape Navigator or Netscape Communicator for redistribution to users.

The company announced separately it will make Netscape Communicator source code available for free licensing beginning with the first Communicator 5.0 developer release, scheduled for release at the end of quarter one, 1998.

In an effort to further leverage market penetration of its client software and increase software solutions sales, Netscape introduced a series of new products and services.

They include a new investment protection program for Communicator users, reduced pricing on the company's retail and enterprise client products, and new Netscape SuiteSpot server software upgrades that include Netscape client software. Improved subscription and support packages, and a new Premium Services program on the Netscape Netcenter online service were also unveiled.