Netscape Communications Corp. will soon allow people using its Web software to conduct live online chats with millions of other Internet users.
The feature, an instant messaging service offered in conjunction with America Online, will be available later in the year. Netscape plans to include the technology in upcoming versions of its client software as well as a download from its Web site.
America Online already offers its own subscribers the ability to do instant online chats. By incorporating the technology into its own Web browser, Netscape says it will open up the same kind of instantaneous communication to the millions of people who use its product as a portal to the Internet.
"This is really a very complementary technology to E-mail," said Ken Rutsky, the product manager for Netscape's NetCenter programs He added that the ability to chat in so-called real time will work regardless of the online service or Internet Service Provider a person uses to reach the Internet.
The technology, first employed by AOL as a feature in its Instant Message and Buddy List, alerts users when family or friends they want to chat with are online. In Netscape Navigator, the system will work in a similar fashion, bringing up a menu that launches a window with a list of people who are online. Other `buddies' in a pre-defined list will be similarly alerted.
The daily operation of the service will be run by AOL.