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Netscape Edges Out in Front With New Web Browser

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RALEIGH — If you surf the net, you probably use what's called a "web browser" fromMicrosoft or Netscape. The battle continues between the two companiesover which will offer more features and be number one. But Netscape mayhave edged out in front with one of its newest innovations.

The Communicator download is free from Netscape's site but it's a trial.The real thing costs about $30. Communicator is a powerful tool offeringusers not only web browsing, but almost any tool you need to work on thenet.

"It's beyond just tools like a toaster or a microwave," says KarenBluestein of Ventana Communications Group. "It's really a sense ofcommunity and the way to get specific information that you may be lookingfor.

Search engines are a click away and you can customize them. E-mail andnewsgroups come up in a personal message center. Want to make your ownweb page? Bring up "composer", a wizard, and follow the simpleinstructions. You get Navigator 4.01, the newest version which is fastand has new features.

Communicator and Navigator have a different look and plenty of toolbarbuttons. You can also get Netcaster. Choose for yourself sites you wantto visit and they're automatically updated.

"It's almost like pre-setting certain TV channels that you want to see,"says Bluestein, who oversees publications about Netscape.

Set up is easy. If you're online a lot and want to keep up with what'sgoing on this is a cool way to do it. Even if you really like yourMicrosoft Internet Explorer, downloading Communicator and having a littlefun with it is worth the time.

A new edition of Internet Explorer, also called 4.01, is due to go publicsoon. This browser battle is a donneybrook with huge money as stake. Netscape leads now, but some observers say they'll lose unless they begin giving their products away free, like Microsoft does.