Network: Netscape unveils its new browser

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The Independent Culture
LAST WEEK Netscape Communications announced the latest version of its Internet software, Communicator 4.5. The new version will have enhanced searching facilities built in, content filters and advanced e- mail capabilities.

By integrating the new software with databases on its Netcenter Web site, Netscape says customers surfing to a page will be able to choose a drop- down menu of automatically generated links to similar sites. The existing facility to type keywords direct into the browser's URL field will be boosted by access to Netcenter channels and links to a database of trademarked and product names, designed to narrow the results of a search.

RSACi and SafeSurf Web site ratings, already in use by Microsoft Internet Explorer, are the basis for content-filtering tools for parents, librarians, and network administrators. They can be used to block access to sites containing violence and nudity, for example, based on ratings applied to Web pages by content providers.

Accessing e-mail from any computer will be made easier by allowing users to create transportable profiles of their Internet software configuration. Increased options for filtering e-mail and working off-line are also promised. A beta release is due next month, with the finished product scheduled for autumn release.

ALMOST HALF of all newly installed business applications - 228 million out of 574 million - are pirate or bootleg copies, according to a study carried out by the Business Software Alliance and the Software Publishers Association. The cost to the US software industry is estimated to be $11.4bn.

In terms of dollar losses, the US market was the worst, at $2.7bn, followed by China at $1.4bn, then Japan, South Korea, Germany, France, Brazil, Italy, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Total losses for those countries were $7.8bn - 68 per cent of world-wide losses. In percentage terms, Asia's highest piracy rates were in Vietnam, with 98 per cent of their applications being illegal; China, 96 per cent; and Indonesia 93 per cent. Eastern Europe had similarly high figures.

Ken Wasch, president of the SPA, said that the problem is bigger than the figures show and governments should intervene: "Software piracy continues unabated," he said. "Even more sobering is the realisation that piracy of educational and entertainment software costs uncounted billions more. We call on governments around the world to ratify the WIPO Copyright Treaty, which would provide much-needed remedies against software piracy tools, and to rededicate themselves to fighting piracy by and through enforcement and education."

MICROSOFT IS still under the scrutiny of the European Commission over modified versions of agreements it proposed in February with 30 EU-based Internet service providers (ISPs) to promote them in exchange for their adoption of Internet Explorer (IE) instead of competing software. A spokesperson for Microsoft said the company asked for an exemption to EU rules that ban agreements between companies that restrict competition.

Microsoft said it has changed the original contract it proposed in February. Under the new agreement, Microsoft will promote ISPs to end users who have a copy of Windows 95 with IE tech- nologies on their PCs. In return, ISPs would pay Microsoft an unspecified fee for each user who subscribed to its services. The ISPs will also have the right to customise or adapt IE software and distribute it to users.

BT HAS awarded a contract to King Products, a Canadian company, to supply 1,000 Internet-ready, multimedia pay phones for use in Britain. Phones will begin to appear in October. The move follows a pilot project by BT in which 200 Touch Point terminals were installed in and around London. The companies said the phones were used by about 400,000 people per month.

The flat-panel, touch-screen phones, which have MMX processors, will be connected to the BT network by an ISDN connection. They will have a handset, a printer and smart card capability to allow access to multimedia services such as street maps, news, weather, hotel bookings, theatre reservations and e-mail.

A DISTRICT court in San Jose, California, last week issued an injunction against three of the eight spammers sued by Hotmail, the free e-mail service. The judge found that the three had broken federal and state laws and ordered them to pay damages to the Microsoft subsidiary. LCGM Incorporated was ordered to pay $275,000 in damages; Palmer and Associates and the Financial Research Group had to pay $55,000 and $7,500 respectively. Two others settled out of court and another three have legal cases pending. Although there are no laws specifically about spamming and junk e-mail, Hotmail was able to prosecute because trademarks had been infringed and fraud laws broken. The Federal Trade Commission is currently considering ways to clamp down on spammers using legislation about deceptive practices.