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Key developers quit Netscape

AOL'S RECENTLY acquired Netscape division lost two key developers last week when Jamie Zawinski and John Giannandrea left the company. Giannandrea, a co-creator of Communicator's smart browsing features, had been with the company for five years when he left on Friday. The day before, Zawinski, Netscape engineer and Mozilla.org project co-founder, had tendered his resignation.

"Netscape has been a great disappointment to me for quite some time," he said in a message posted on the Web. "The more people involved, the slower and stupider their union is.

"In my humble but correct opinion, we should have shipped Netscape Navigator 5.0 no later than six months after the source code was released. But [the Mozilla.org group] couldn't figure out a way to make that happen. I accept my share of responsibility for this, and consider this a personal failure."

AOL and Mozilla.org said they regretted the resignations. "[Zawinski and Giannandrea] have done really excellent work in getting Mozilla where it is now," said Mike Shaver, who will take over Zawinski's responsibilities for developer relations. "But Mozilla is bigger than Netscape, and it's certainly bigger than two or three people."

Industry rumours suggest that the resignations could be the start of a Netscape brain drain and that other key figures will also leave shortly.


MEANWHILE, SUN Microsystems and AOL said last week that the Sun-Netscape alliance would continue selling overlapping electronic commerce products from both companies while developing a unified set of next-generation software for release early next year.

The alliance said that it would develop products to run on major operating systems for messaging and collaboration over the Internet, as well as directory and security features for safely navigating and doing business on the Web.

AOL said that the companies were not yet ready to enter a joint venture. The alliance was "to test the waters" with a commitment from Sun and AOL to bring 1,000 employees from each firm to the project. Neither company would say whether the alliance, if successful, is intended to spin-off as a separate company.


IBM WILL remove adverts from its websites from next month unless advertisers post clear privacy policies. The company, itself the second-largest advertiser on the Web, said that it was making the stand to help overcome consumers' fears of engaging in electronic commerce. Privacy policies let Web users know what information will be collected when they use a site, and how it will be used for marketing.

"We felt this was an opportunity for us to use the economic or financial leverage of advertising to encourage sites without a privacy policy to adopt and clearly post policies for people to see," said an IBM spokesman, John Bukovinsky. "It's critical that private industry take whatever initiatives it can to ensure fundamental privacy practices are followed."


MICROSOFT SAID last week that it has completed development of the Office 2000 suite of business software programs and will begin shipping it to corporate customers this month. Retail versions of the latest releases of Word, Exel, PowerPoint and Access will go on sale to the general public on 10 June.

A third and final beta test version of the Windows 2000 operating system is anticipated this month. Jon Perera, lead product manager for Windows 2000, confirmed that Microsoft would deliver the beta this month and that final shipment of a full version was likely before the end of the year.

"We're in a very good position," he said. "[But] promising a date would be the wrong thing to do. There's nobody who can promise one month from another."


COREL CORPORATION last week moved to win back a significant share in the office suite market by announcing an alliance with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) PC Chips group. WordPerfect Suite 8 will be bundled with every motherboard shipped by PC Chips. Last year, the Hong Kong-based manufacturer shipped more than 15 million motherboards, putting it ahead of Compaq, IBM and Dell, which shipped 13, 8 and 7 million respectively.

The alliance also involves a joint marketing campaign that will support the upcoming release of WordPerfect Office 2000 and Corel's graphics products and e-commerce packages.

"The sheer scale of PC Chips' reach makes this Corel's largest OEM opportunity to date, and one that will be hard to surpass," said Michael Cowpland, Corel's president and chief executive officer. "This will significantly increase the penetration of our WordPerfect productivity applications round the world."