Gateway will offer buyers of its Windows 98 PCs a choice between Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator. While Microsoft prepares to defend in court its right to integrate Internet Explorer with Windows 98 and control the Windows 98 start-up screen, the deal with Gateway signals that the software giant has become much more flexible in negotiations with PC vendors.
Gateway is the first vendor to announce that it will ship Communicator ? together with Internet Explorer ? on Windows 98 PCs.
Gateway's vice president of marketing, Bart Brown, said Microsoft agreed to a deal that allows Gateway to edit the Internet set-up procedure that is built into Windows 98. Instead of offering MSN as the default Internet service provider, the customer will be offered the Gateway.net Internet service. The customer can then select either Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator to access the service.
Brown said the deal with Microsoft was possible because Gateway, in the US, is both a PC vendor and an ISP.
Up to now, Microsoft has maintained that Internet Explorer is so deeply integrated with Windows 98, that the two can not be separated.
Earlier this month, Microsoft refused a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to either remove Internet Explorer from Windows 98, or ship Netscape Navigator as well. The DoJ is now demanding a preliminary injunction to the same effect.
Last year, Compaq testified in court that Microsoft had threatened to terminate its Windows licence if it removed the Internet Explorer icon from the Windows 95 desktop.
However, even if a Gateway customer chooses Netscape Communicator as the default browser, Internet Explorer will still be on the system. A URL that is embedded in a Word document, for instance, will still call up Internet Explorer. But clicking on an HTML Link will open Communicator.
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