Communicator gets chatty in new version

Netscape Communications has released a new version of its Internet software suite, Netscape Communicator.

Communicator 4.51 further integrates with Netscape's Netcenter Internet portal. Other improvements include enhanced instant messaging with group chat capabilities and quick access to stock quotes using Netscape's Smart Browsing technology. Netscape also says it has tweaked its browser to crash less and run more securely.

The Windows upgrade from Communicator 4.5 is a 9MB download that can be accessed using the Communicator's SmartUpdate feature. The Mac update is only 1.9MB. The full suite is a 14.7MB download.

AOL's Instant Messenger has been upgraded to 2.0 for this release. The Communicator add-on allows for real-time person-to-person and group conversations of up to 25 people.

Instant Messenger 2.0 will get prominent play in the newest version of the browser, becoming a toolbar option.

A new feature called Quotes Anywhere allows users to access stock quotes from anywhere on the Net via the Netcenter Finance Channel. All you have to do is type Quote and then enter a stock ticker symbol in the Location field. If you have a MyNetscape stock portfolio you can also to type my stocks in the Location field to quickly display an entire portfolio of stocks.

Netscape has also improved Communicator's quality and stability, making more than 100 changes to boost reliability, it says. It has also improved security by correcting potential browser vulnerabilities reported in recent months by independent programmers, it says.

Netscape Communicator 4.5 was released in October 1998. Netscape says it will release a beta 5.0 of the Communicator browser sometime within the first half of 1999, with a final release by the end of the year.

Microsoft is set to release its final 5.0 release of its Internet Explorer browser next week.

Communicator 4.51 is available for download at the PC World site, http://pcworld.idg.com.au/main/shareware_netscape.html

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Tom Spring

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