Netscape's final Netcaster due out this week

Netscape has announced the final version of the Netcaster 'push' component of its Communicator client will be out before the end of the week, letting Web surfers subscribe to channels -- Web sites that they want to send information to their desktops on a regular basis -- and look at those and other Web sites offline.

Netscape has announced the final version of the Netcaster "push" component for its Communicator client will be out before the end of the week, trumpeting its support from consumer and business-oriented Web sites.

Using Netcaster, Web surfers can subscribe to channels -- Web sites that they want to send information to their desktops on a regular basis -- and look at those and other Web sites offline, officials say. Netcaster can also be used to build a Webtop -- that is, to anchor a Web site to the desktop -- so users can watch for pushed information, even if they are using other applications.

Netscape, which has been wooing content providers to support Netcaster while Microsoft drums up support for its rival Channel Definition Format, boasted this week of more than 700 Netcaster channels. Netscape's Channel Finder, a guide that is served off the Netscape Web site, will feature many Netcaster channels. Among the new business-oriented premier channels announced so far are Fast Company, Federal Express and Industry Week, officials say. New consumer-oriented premier channels include Disney, Excite Personal and TV Guide Entertainment Network. Other companies planning to roll out Netcaster channels include ABCNEWS.com, CBS SportsLine, CNNfn, Hearst Home Arts, Gartner Group Advisor and Travelocity.

On sites that are labelled Netcaster Ready, Web surfers can click on an "Add Channel" button to add channel-provider specified default settings to Netcaster, officials say. At other Web sites, Web surfers can spell out what information they want pushed to them and how frequently they want it.

Netscape is pitching Netcaster to corporate customers, to use the Webtop feature on their intranets. Third-party developers are also adding Netcaster capability to their applications, including Trilogy Development Group, which is Netcaster-enabling a version of its Selling Chain for the Web software. Netscape's new Channel Wizard lets Web site developers build the JavaScript needed to define a channel and add it and the "Add Channel" button to their Web site, officials say.

Netcaster will be available with Communicator 4.02 and Communicator Pro, which are priced at US$59 and US$79, officials say.

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