History seems to be repeating itself with news that the Netscape browser will ship on HP PCs in 2006.

Netscape 8.0 browser will ship on HP PCs in the US and Canada starting early next year, with links both in the Start menu and on the desktop of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system. Users also will be able to make the browser their default choice.

Internet Explorer currently dominates the browser market, but it was Netscape that defined the category.

Firefox with added extra

Netscape 8.0 shares the same code base as the Firefox browser, an open-source project from the Mozilla Foundation. But it also uses rendering technology found within IE that Firefox does not, allowing Netscape users to completely view some pages that do not load fully in Firefox.

HP's PC group surveyed customers on their Web-browsing preferences, and enough of them expressed an interest in having a choice of default browsers for HP to move forward with the deal, said Nick Labosky, director of worldwide consumer PC beyond-the-box at HP.

HP is working out its plans for alternative browsers in other regions of the world, Labosky said.