Sun Microsystems and America Online (AOL) announced Tuesday a unified product strategy called the Sun-Netscape Alliance which will combine enterprise products from Sun and Netscape, which was recently purchased by AOL, over the next year. The first combined product is expected by March 2000. In the meantime, new versions of email and collaboration servers from both companies will be offered simultaneously as the companies work to combine the products.

The alliance will employ about 2000 people, drawn equally from the ranks of both companies, which will bring Sun's marketing strength to Netscape's server products. AOL, meanwhile, will work on the forthcoming version of Netscape Communicator 5.0, despite the fact that its online service will continue to be based on Internet Explorer, Communicator's biggest competitor