The campaign is designed to promote use of IE 3.0-both by PC users who already have installed IE, and by customers of Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator who may be enticed to switch.
Why launch promotions in the final months before the arrival of Microsoft's revamped browser?
"If [consumers] see the benefits in 3.0, clearly they will see the benefits in 4.0," upgrading when the new version appears, said Jay Goldstein, IE product manager. IE is free for PC users.
The most encompassing promo may be a sweepstakes created by Softbank Interactive Marketing. Visitors to four sites repped by Softbank-WebChat Broadcasting System (www.wbs.net); LookSmart (www.looksmart.com); TV Guide Entertainment Network (www.tvguide.
com); and Intellicast (www.
intellicast.com)-can enter a vacation sweepstakes if they use IE; a link lets Netscape users download the browser so they can enter.
The promotions grew out of a request for proposals Microsoft sent out to sites in search of ideas to keep interest high for IE 3.0 as the company readies its next browser.
Other promotions resulting from that request include one on ESPN's site (espn. sportszone.com) offering a weekly sports dream vacation giveaway to IE users and a promo on NBC's site (www.
nbc.com) tied to the Web version of "Homicide: Life on the Street."
Microsoft will also partner with Yahoo!*Internet Life for a promotion.
NETSCAPE STILL ON TOP
Microsoft still trails Netscape Communications Corp. in browser installations. Microsoft had just a 28% share of the corporate market for browsers vs. Netscape's 70% in January, according to Zona Research.
But Yusuf Mehdi, IE's group product manager, contends Microsoft has taken the lead in new browser installations.
The only area of distribution where IE trails Netscape, he said, is in stores, where consumers choose Netscape more than 2-to-1 over a shrinkwrapped IE sold by Microsoft.
Contributing: Chuck Ross