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Netscape Downplays Microsoft's Latest Attack in the Browser War

It's no big deal. That's the reaction Netscape Communications Corp. has to the Office 97 snafu that occurred on Wednesday when a public outcry brought attention to a potential Netscape discrimination by Microsoft Corp.

Apparently, when any Netscape browser user attempted to download the Office 97 Update from Microsoft's Web site, they were immediate turned to an alternate page which instructed them that the version of the update they were about to download was a "limited edition" of the download, and that they needed Internet Explorer 4.01 to download the full version of OfficeUpdate.

"We tend to think an instance like this usually fixes itself," says Donna Sokolsky, a spokesperson for Netscape. "It's not that big of a deal for us to be worried about."

When Netscape browser users traveled to the office update page they got this message: Because we've detected a browser that is not Microsoft® Internet Explorer 4.01 or later, we can only display a limited edition of the OfficeUpdate site. Although this limited edition contains links to all Office updates, service releases, and downloads, the full edition of OfficeUpdate has many more features, such as rich, interactive catalogs of Office downloads that let you sort, filter, and expand information. The full edition is also very fast because much of the shared formatting and scripting is only downloaded once. To experience the benefits of the full edition of OfficeUpdate, you'll need to use Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 or above.

Alternatively, when IE 4.01 users enter the same URL, they are brought to a page that will direct them to the full office update. Microsoft insisted that this was not an attempt to get Netscape browser users to switch over to IE, and insisted the update will be the same for every Office 97 user regardless of what browser they use to download the patch.

Sokolsky, however, says this was no mistake: "The bottom line is that Microsoft tried to pull a fast one, and when there was a public outcry, they back-peddled." -- Brian Ploskina, Assistant Editor

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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