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In the News

- Beijing Cancels Massive Microsoft Software Order
- New Netscape Browser Impersonates Firefox and IE

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

Beijing Cancels Massive Microsoft Software Order

Amid long-standing complaints that it abandon foreign software and adopt Chinese-built solutions, the city of Beijing has canceled a $3.5 million deal with Microsoft. Earlier, Microsoft had won a deal to provide Beijing with OS and applications software.
According to the "South China Morning Post," Beijing recanted its deal with Microsoft after receiving numerous complaints from Chinese software companies. In a meeting this week with representatives of those companies and the Chinese central government, Beijing city officials caved in to the pressure and agreed to cancel the city's Microsoft deal. Most of China's modern software industry is based on open-source software (OSS), including Linux-based solutions from companies such as Red Flag Software. But analysts note that idealism over OSS had nothing to do with the decision to drop the Microsoft bid. Instead, China is aggressively trying to push domestic products over those from foreign companies such as Microsoft.
On a related note, more than 90 percent of all software used in China is pirated from US companies. As the country moves to homegrown OSS solutions, how that percentage will change is unclear. For Microsoft, however, the strategies for competing with piracy and OSS solutions are eerily similar: The company has typically lowered prices and touted the benefits of its mature support channels.
Microsoft was to have provided Beijing with Windows and Microsoft Office software. Other Chinese cities, including Tianjin and Shanghai, have withstood outside pressures to give precedence to Chinese software and have awarded Microsoft lucrative contracts recently.

New Netscape Browser Impersonates Firefox and IE

AOL's Netscape division released a beta version of its forthcoming Netscape 8.0 Web browser, which is based on Mozilla Firefox but also supports the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) rendering engine. The unexpected new browser integrates fairly nicely with both the Firefox and IE rendering engines; if users go to a page that won't display properly using the Firefox rendering engine, called Gecko, they can switch to IE by using Netscape's Site Control Menu. The browser will then remember to use IE in future visits to that site.
Because the new version of Netscape uses the IE rendering engine that's built into Windows, the product runs only on Windows, unlike earlier Netscape versions, which ran on Mac OS, Linux, and other OSs. That's not a huge loss, of course, as Windows still commands more than 90 percent of the market.
In addition to its unique approach to rendering Web pages, the browser includes per-Web site configuration of features such as cookies, ActiveX controls, Javascript, and Java. The Netscape 8.0 beta also includes a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) reader and other features that will be familiar to Firefox users, including pop-up ad blocking.
According to MozillaZine, an online Web journal covering The Mozilla Foundation and its products, Netscape staffers didn't create Netscape 8.0; the browser was outsourced to a Canadian software company called Mercurial Communications. AOL dismantled most of its Netscape-related development sites in July 2003, just 2 months after Microsoft settled its antitrust suit with AOL parent Time Warner for $750 million.
The final version of Netscape 8.0 will be based on Firefox 1.0, although the current beta appears to be based on Firefox 0.93. You can't evaluate the beta product unless you've recently signed up for Netscape's online forums. However, Netscape expects a widely available public beta soon.

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