By Diganta Majumder
In the world of cyberspace, America Online made the news-and then made the news again.
First, AOL signed a deal to license Netscape's Navigator browser. Nobody said the deal was exclusive, but it certainly looked like a victory over Microsoft.
The very next day, AOL announced a deal with . . . Microsoft. With this one, AOL agreed to make Microsoft's Internet Explorer its "standard, built-in Web browser." For its part, Microsoft will build AOL access into Windows 95-right next to its own Microsoft Network.
Not surprisingly, this pact raised eyebrows- and some hackles. Since Explorer is "built in" while Navigator is "licensed," doesn't Microsoft have a big advantage? And does anyone remember that when Microsoft said it would attach one-click access to MSN from Win95, the company that complained loudest was AOL? AOL also inked a deal to give customers of AT&T's WorldNet service, which provides value-added access to the Internet, the ability to access and sign up for AOL. And finally, the company launched America Online Enterprise, helping large organizations build private networks. Subscribers will be able to create and link workgroups, while enjoying virtually all of the features found on the consumer version of AOL
In the rough terrain of cyberspace, partnerships are the key to success, even survival. But who those partners should be is always an open question.
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Cyrix Takes on the OEMs
Many observers figured Intel would do it first. Instead, it's Cyrix that has charged into the PC market. The chipmaker has taken on manufacturers in the direct channel with a new line of 6x86 machines that it claims are the world's fastest Windows 95 PCs.
But Cyrix's entry into the systems business doesn't mark its exit from the chip business. The company's primary goal is to build awareness for the Cyrix brand. (That's an uphill task; Intel reportedly spent more money promoting its flagship Pentium in the last two years than Cyrix posted in net income.) And Cyrix has more to lose by alienating its OEM partners than by trying to rack up PC profits.
However, the company says that while it's aiming for a relatively small niche, its pursuit will be aggressive. Cyrix products have held their own against Pentium in some areas, and the company claims its new 6x86 P166 PCs outperform Dell and Gateway 2000 machines containing the 166MHz Pentium. As for price, while Cyrix has sometimes been derided as the Kmart of microprocessor vendors, the new machines won't come cheap: Prices range from $2,399 to $3,349.
In a bid to boost its market share, Corel is offering WordPerfect
Suite 7 (Beta 3) for $19.95 plus shipping and handling. (The offer
expires at the end of May.) The beta CD-ROM consists of Corel
WordPerfect 7, Corel Quattro Pro 7, Envoy 7, Corel Presentations
7.0, CorelFLOW 3, and Starfish Software's Sidekick 95 and Dashboard
95. (In case you're wondering, the fact that so many of the products
seem to be "version 7" wasn't just pure luck; the numbers
were changed, the company says, for ease of use.) The suite itself
will begin shipping in May in two versions. One will be a CD-ROM-only
format, the other a diskette with a companion CD-ROM. The diskette
contains the WordPerfect 7 application only. To order the beta
suite, call 800-451-5151, but remember that there will be no technical
support or documentation.