Netscape Sees XML in Its E-Commerce Future

Netscape Communications (Nasdaq: NSCP) announced on Tuesday that it will integrate comprehensive support for XML across its portfolio of e-commerce applications. According to the company, support for the XML language is a key ingredient to Netscape’s e-commerce strategy. Netscape’s implementation of XML will support e-commerce transactions, business processes and catalog exchanges between companies.

Netscape’s announcement is also of particular interest because it will quite possibly impact online transactions on America Online, the world’s largest e-commerce powerhouse which has recently acquired Netscape.

What Is XML?

XML is a Web page coding language, similar in a sense to HTML, but much more robust and functional in supporting client-server transactions. XML has been seen by many as especially applicable for e-commerce, because it can allow online merchants to set up dynamic and flexible online stores without the need for complex database programming.

After almost two years of wrangling, industry leaders like Netscape and Microsoft have agreed on a standards-based implementation of XML, and we are now sure to see support for XML in the upcoming versions of the major Internet browsers.

Netscape’s Take on XML

According to Steve Savignano, senior vice president and general manager of Netscape’s Application Products Division, “With Netscape’s new XML strategy, we will continue to lead the industry in providing customers with best-of-breed solutions for competing and communicating in the Net Economy.”

Netscape CommerceXpert products that are scheduled to support XML include Netscape BuyerXpert, Netscape ECXpert, Netscape SellerXpert and Netscape TradingXpert.

Netscape’s Internet procurement and selling solutions are expected to support XML-based catalog exchanges. This support will enable enterprise buyers and suppliers to conduct communications with their trading partners using a common standard. This standardization should help streamline communication processes and reduce costs associated with doing business online.

Meanwhile, Back in Redmond

Last week, Netscape arch-competitor, Microsoft, announced a comprehensive e-commerce strategy that includes an emphasis on XML-based technology. It remains to be seen, however, if Microsoft’s newly-announced BizTalk platform, which is at the center of its new e-commerce products, will put a proprietary spin on the XML standard. The new BizTalk technology and the rest of Microsoft’s e-commerce offerings will be tightly integrated into MSN, while Netscape’s consumer stronghold will be America Online and its 16 million subscribers.

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