A software glitch late last month temporarily knocked out service for 2,000 users of Netscape Communication's WebMail service.

Netscape confirmed that the problem occurred while it was working to combine the email names of Netscape Netcenter, CompuServe and America Online email users into one database to upgrade the WebMail service.

The overlap of names caused Netscape to ask some users to change their email 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 said the company had fixed it. All six million of its combined email users should now have complete access to their accounts, she added.

Bentley said: "During the process of upgrading our WebMail product for faster speed, better spam protection and integration 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 unable to change their names. But we have fixed the problem."

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