Netscape to push Netcaster out of the nest this month

Netscape will roll out Netcaster later this month, as part of the next version of its Netscape Communicator and Netscape Communicator Pro applications. Netcaster is Netscape's entry into the field of push technology, which delivers tailored information directly to users' desktops so that they don't have to search for the information themselves. But Netscape chairman Jim Clark says he still can't see why there's so much fuss about push.

Netscape will roll out Netcaster later this month, as part of the next version of its Netscape Communicator and Netscape Communicator Pro applications.

Netscape officially announced Netcaster in April, saying it would be in 4.0 versions of its Communicator family shipped in the second quarter.

Netcaster is Netscape's entry into the field of push technology, which delivers tailored information directly to users' desktops so that they don't have to search for the information themselves.

"Netcaster provides automatic delivery for all Web content," says the company's chairman, Jim Clark, adding that the company took pains to make sure the new technology would work with existing standards.

Clark compares the concept to broadcasting and says it wasn't as novel as the idea of using the Internet as a resource from which to download, or pull, information.

"I can't understand why push is getting so much attention," says Clark, who in 1994 co-founded Netscape with Marc Andreessen. "Pull is what was new. Push has been around. It's broadcasting. The only difference is advertisers have not caught on."

Users of Netcaster, formerly code-named Constellation, will be able to customise what Clark called a "Webtop" on which folders will be replaced by a mechanism representing favorite Web sites.

Clark says a Webtop could be set up according to the users' own preferences, a company's preferences or the Internet service providers' model.

Another advantage for business users is that it would help IS managers keep employees synchronised and help ensure they have correct and registered versions of software they are using, he said.

Clark has also confirmed Netscape's commitment to be a provider of Internet solutions for businesses, which typically have a greater ability to take advantage of new technologies such as push because they can determine the bandwidth of their networks.

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