Novell to Bundle IE With NetWare 5.0

As part of an effort to equip its next-generation operating system for use with the Internet, Novell Inc. announced that it will bundle Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser with NetWare 5.0, and IE will likewise be available for users of NetWare 5.0’s predecessors.

Earlier versions of the NetWare operating system were not designed to access the Web. "NetWare 5.0 puts Novell into the Internet space for the first time. The 3.x versions didn’t really accomplish that," says Peter Clegg, Internet product manager, Novell.

In addition to arming the operating system for the Web, Novell and Microsoft are turning the tides of a sour relationship. "This marks a new era of our relationship with Microsoft," says Clegg. "But that’s basically a matter of course, since we’re coming to a point where almost all corporate networks have both Microsoft and Novell products."

NetWare also ships bundled with Netscape Communications Corp.’s Navigator browser. "The main reason we bundled IE is that we want to supply our customers with freedom of choice," adds Clegg.

Frank Gens, senior vice president of the Internet Research Arm at International Data Corp. (IDC, Framingham, Mass.), agrees. "Novell is expanding on its strategy of open standards and choice by embracing both the Microsoft and Netscape browsers," he says.

IE will be available for all NetWare customers as part of a regularly updated client CD, as well as shipping with future versions of NetWare. Although it will not be included in the initial shipment of NetWare 5.0, IE will be in the box in the near future. Netscape’s Communicator will continue to ship with Novell products, and both browsers will interface with the Netscape FastTrack Web server included in NetWare 5.0.

Currently, nearly 90 percent of the browser market share is divided almost equally between Netscape and Microsoft. Novell’s Clegg doesn’t believe that bundling the two browsers will alter that much. "A browser decision is not usually made as a NOS decision," he says. "I doubt the bundling will really change which browser people choose. Instead, I would expect it to mirror what the market in general is doing."

Meanwhile, getting IE into the hands of the 20 million or more new nodes of NetWare that Clegg says are installed annually won’t hurt Microsoft’s battle for market share. "This cooperation between Microsoft and [Novell] is positive for the industry at large and for their mutual customers in particular," says IDC’s Gens.