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AOL, Sun: Call Us The .Com Company

America Online Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. Tuesday disclosed more details of the union between Netscape Communications and the two companies, dubbed the Sun-Netscape Alliance.

The companies hope the alliance will enable them to better compete against rivals IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp. and move to the front of the e-commerce infrastructure and application software pack.

"We want to be the leading software vendor, the .com company," said newly appointed alliance head Barry Schuler, president of America Online's Interactive Services Group.

"For e-commerce to make it to the next level, there have to be new, comprehensive, integrated solutions that make every part of the commerce value chain much easier. That's what this strategic Alliance will do: enhance the value chain all the way from silicon to eyeballs."

"We now have a significant increase in investment in key areas and have the opportunity to leverage our similar architectures, broad use of Internet standards and common vision to '.com' the world," said Mark Tolliver, president and general manager of the Sun-Netscape Alliance.

The executives outlined plans to develop a next-generation product line while simultaneously maintaining support for product offerings from AOL and Sun.

The alliance's e-commerce infrastructure product line will include communications, collaboration, and commerce services, such as e-mail messaging and calendar, collaboration, Web, application, network phone book directory and security certificate servers.

The first joint product is slated to ship by the first quarter of next year and will be a combination of the Messaging server, offering the best of breed characteristics such as HTML-enabled mail, and Sun's ISP product creating a universal messaging product that will provide Web-based access with phone and video capabilities. A full suite of products will be available by the first quarter of 2000, on various platforms, including HP, IBM, Linux, Windows NT and Sun.

A variety of other e-commerce applications are also in the works. The companies said they expect to release the next generation of Sun's NetDynamics application server, announced March 10, and Netscape's application server scheduled for release later this year.

For its directory, security and management servers, the alliance plans to use Netscape's directory product and incorporate key technology features from Sun.

Sun also announced a 50-city worldwide seminar series geared towards customers who want to ".com" their company. The "Get The .com Advantage" Roadshow series launches in May and will run through the middle of next year.