AOL Gets Netscape On HP Machines

    October 3, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

It’s been a long time since Netscape mattered to Internet users, but AOL and HP will try to win over converts among new HP PC purchasers.

Next year, new Hewlett-Packard PCs will arrive with a once-familiar piece of software on the desktop, the Netscape web browser. BusinessWeek and other sources state Compaq and HP personal computers shipping in 2006 will have the Netscape browser installed.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the aim seems clear. A Netscape browser would arrive with AOL’s web portal as the default setting, along with AOL search. If AOL can convert some of those default visitors into regular site users, it would go a long way toward helping Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons see AOL become a moneymaker.

The various improvements and updates to Netscape, including anti-phishing technology and basing its code on the open source Firefox browser, won’t be enough by themselves to make much difference to AOL’s fortunes. They have to get traffic to their portal, and more importantly get those visitors viewing and clicking advertisements.

AOL received $750 million from Microsoft in the wake of the anti-trust suit that nearly saw Microsoft broken into two companies. Along with AOL’s receipt of the settlement came a seven-year royalty free license to use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Netscape “uses” IE, in a way according to BusinessWeek. When arriving at a web site that has been optimized for IE, and Netscape has determined it is a legitimate site, it switches to using IE to render that site for the user.

If AOL can build some loyalty among users who keep coming back to AOL, their using Netscape will be a bonus. But they won’t complain about repeat visitors who use IE, either.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.