Tim Byars (
Mon, 17 Jun 1996 22:35:36 -0700

. -- Netscape Communications Corp. is attacking a
number of fronts to convince customers that it still has
a technological lead over
rapidly approaching competition.

Netscape will spin off a new subsidiary within the next
month to focus on
creating software for non-PC platforms, said sources
close to the company.

Later this summer, Netscape will roll out a
comprehensive Internet strategy that
will position its servers and browser as a
next-generation Internet-based
operating system.

"Major new releases of our browser is a 12-month thing,"
Chief Technology
Officer Marc Andreessen said during an interview with PC
Week at Netscape's
headquarters here last week. "Major releases of
operating systems like Cairo or
Copland take five years. So anything [like Java]
integrated into an [operating
system] is outdated the day [the operating system] ships."

The only difference technically between Netscape's
Navigator browser and a
traditional operating system is that Navigator will not
include device drivers,
Andreessen said.

In addition, Netscape began laying plans last week for
the next-generation
Navigator, code-named Galileo, and the next major
release of its SuiteSpot
server applications, code-named Orion, as part of its
intranet framework.

"Netscape has good technology and good ideas," said a
vice president of IS at a
major financial institution based in Boston who
requested anonymity. "But the
key for them is to make the story compelling enough that
I will be interested in
paying extra for technologies that I might be getting
free from other vendors."

Netscape's as-yet-unnamed subsidiary will focus on
delivering Navigator
derivatives for such products as network computers,
personal digital assistants
and set-top boxes, said sources.

Set to be announced within the next couple of weeks, the
subsidiary will likely
form alliances with other vendors that are developing
both hardware and
software for non-PC platforms, sources added.

Netscape's umbrella platform strategy involves releasing
new and unified APIs
this year for Navigator and SuiteSpot that will enable
development of client/
server applications for the intranet, said Andreessen.

For example, Netscape will release new APIs for its
Mail, News, Catalogue,
Directory and Enterprise servers that enable
corporations to create applications
that leverage the underlying messaging and
communications capabilities of each
product. On the client side, Netscape will release
connections that will more
closely link Navigator to databases.

Netscape is also forming an object linking strategy to
enable client-side objects
and applets to communicate over the Internet with
server-based applications.
The framework and APIs will be based on the recently
introduced Java API,
called RMI (remote method invocation), and a CORBA
(Common Object
Request Broker Architecture)-based model, IIPO.

According to sources, Netscape will base its work on a
integration technology being developed by PostModern
Technologies Inc., an object-oriented application
development tool vendor based
here that recently merged with database connectivity
vendor Visigenic Inc., of
San Mateo, Calif.

In the meantime, Netscape plans to stay a step ahead of
its competition with new
versions of Navigator and SuiteSpot. The Galileo
upgrade, due by the end of
the year, will include offline Web browsing
capabilities, integrated groupware
replication functionality based on the company's
Collabra Share groupware, and
enhanced Web site and application creation tools,
according to Andreessen.


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