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Browser war hots up

The battle between Microsoft and Netscape for control of the Internet software market intensified last week when Netscape wrote to the US Justice Department accusing Microsoft of anti-competitive practices. Netscape alleged, among other things, that Microsoft was offering illegal payments to companies that sell Internet access and operate sites on the World Wide Web so that they would abandon its popular Navigator browser in favour of Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Microsoft has denied the allegations.

Netscape, which released its new Navigator 3.0 last week hot on the heels of Microsoft's launch of Internet Explorer, is estimated to have an 80 per cent share of the browser market. But Microsoft has been making inroads, with major players such as America Online and CompuServe recently choosing Internet Explorer as the preferred browser for their customers.

The Justice Department has refused to comment on the Netscape allegations. Microsoft is already the subject of a Justice Department investigation over its bundling of its Microsoft Network online service with its Windows 95 operating system.

Hare virus a no-show

The Hare computer virus, which experts feared would wipe out the contents of PC hard drives around the world, has failed to live up to its advanced billing - for now, at least. The virus, which experts said has been spreading via the Internet, was designed to detonate last Thursday, but there were only a handful of reported cases by Friday.

However, Hare may only be biding its time. A second detonation is expected on 22 September.