Netscape Users Lose E-Mail

FRAMINGHAM (04/13/2000) - A software glitch that occurred late last month temporarily knocked out service for 2,000 users of Netscape Communications Corp.'s WebMail service.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Netscape confirmed that the problem occurred while it was working to combine the e-mail names of Netscape Netcenter, CompuServe and America Online Inc. e-mail users into one database to upgrade the WebMail service.

The overlap of names caused Netscape to ask some users to change their e-mail names. The company said a software glitch caused about 2,000 people to be locked out of their accounts.

Netscape spokeswoman Anne Bentley declined to discuss specifics of the problem, but she said the company had fixed it. All 6 million of its combined e-mail users should now have complete access to their accounts, she added.

"During the process of upgrading our WebMail product for faster speed and better spam protection - and integrating it with Netscape Instant Messenger - some users got an error message that said the server was temporarily unavailable, and a small percentage of people - 2,000 - were not able to change their names," Bentley said. "But we acknowledged we had a problem and fixed [it]."

Bentley said Netscape sent a message to users saying the company would be upgrading the service over the next several months, but users - who flocked to Netscape message boards - said they had no idea why they couldn't access their accounts.

Edward M. Roche, an analyst at The Concours Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said systems integration problems like the one suffered by Netscape often occur after a merger. America Online Inc. acquired Netscape in 1998.

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