RealTime IT News

Netscape Finds a Place On HP PCs

In a major boost to the once high-flying browser, HP has announced it will pre-load the latest version of Netscape on new consumer PCs and notebooks set for release this January.

"HP believes in giving the customer choice. This decision is reflective of the momentum of users in the marketplace who are choosing to have more than one browser on their desktop," said Nick Labosky, HP's director of worldwide consumer PC Beyond the Box group. "We found that the Netscape browser has an advantage of hosting numerous security features while also giving our customers dual rendering browser engines."

HP said it will offer customers a simple process to make Netscape the default browser instead of Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

The latest version of AOL's Netscape 8 browser shipped earlier this year; it's based on the open source Firefox browser. To better address security concerns that have plagued the market-dominant Internet Explorer, Netscape 8's software engine can switch between the IE and Firefox rendering engines.

Because most Web pages are designed for IE, Netscape 8.0 will view trusted sites using the IE rendering engine by default. Three times a day, Netscape 8 downloads from AOL servers a list of Web sites known to be trusted or untrustworthy, as verified by the non-profit TRUSTe organization, VeriSign or ParetoLogic. If it gets to a site that hasn't been verified or is blacklisted, Netscape will switch over to the Firefox engine.

The bundling agreement is a coup for Netscape owner Time Warner , which didn't benefit much by its victory over Microsoft in a long-running antitrust suit over the software giant's bundling of Internet Explorer with its operating system. (Separately, Microsoft did agree to pay AOL some $750 million to settle a private lawsuit).

One of the complaints in the case was that Microsoft made it difficult for PC companies to offer alternative browsers. In April 2000, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled Microsoft had violated Section 2 of the Sherman Act by using its monopoly power to block rivals from marketing their own operating systems or emerging technologies that threatened Microsoft's market dominance. Parts of that ruling were overturned by a later decision.

HP's said Netscape 8 will be offered as a choice on a range of new systems in both HP's Pavilion and Presario desktop and notebook computer line.

Upstart Firefox is a creation of the Mozilla Foundation, which in May said the open source browser passed the 50 million-download mark. While not as prevalent as the vastly more distributed Internet Explorer, Firefox has had its own share of security issues. Firefox 1.07 was distributed last month as "a security and stability release."