Netscape foreshadows its 1998 software in new paper

While the company is yet to ship its second-generation versions of client and server software suites, Netscape Communications Corp. has posted a white paper describing its plans for the third-generation releases, designed to bump-up push technology and provide enhanced security and directory features. Code-named Mercury for the client upgrade and Apollo for the new server suite, these applications are slated for release in early 1998.

While the company is yet to ship its second-generation versions of client and server software suites, Netscape Communications Corp. has posted a white paper describing its plans for the third-generation releases, designed to bump-up push technology and provide enhanced security and directory features.

Code-named Mercury for the client upgrade and Apollo for the new server suite, these applications are slated for release in early 1998, according to a document posted to Netscape's Web site.

Mercury will update Netscape's Communicator 4.0, which will ship this spring, with enhanced push technology. The suite will be designed to let companies set up their own channels to broadcast information, as well as receive push information that is written in the HTML, Javascript, or Java programming language.

The suite will let users and network managers configure channel selection, according to the Netscape document. Netscape will partner with third-party companies to provide news and other programs, in addition to corporate information.

Mercury will also include Gemini, an engine for creating dynamic, multimedia content, as well as Compass, a tool for filtering and tracking information on the Internet or company intranets. Compass will pull information when users are offline and build personal page lists of components such as important emails.

Mercury will also incorporate an object store to automatically store applications, objects and data downloaded from the Internet.

Hypertree, another feature of Mercury, will show users where information and folders are stored, both locally and on the network, and let users access them. The idea is to expand on Communicator's Constellation file management system and present elements such as e-mail messages and spreadsheets in a single view and create new types of folders, items, and commands.

Apollo, the server suite that will follow SuiteSpot 3.0, will include Palomar, a visual development tool meant to speed up and ease the development and deployment of what the company calls "crossware." Crossware describes software applications that run across a variety of networks and operating systems and are written in Java, Javascript or HTML.

Netscape says it is working with Corel to deliver word processing, spreadsheets and presentations as crossware.

With Apollo, Netscape will enhance support for groupware, the document says. For example, users will be able to drag and drop spreadsheets or CAD drawings into a shared project space to which access can be limited.

Apollo will offer also universal directory services for network services, as well as for custom-built applications. There will be a directory server component so that the directory can notify components and objects whenever new information or configuration data is available. Users will have a choice of either Netscape's Apollo directory services or any LDAP-compliant directory, such as those found in Windows NT or Novell's Directory Services.

Also in these future releases, the company plans to boost security by using smart card technology and the Kerberos specification, as well as keeping existing security features such as user name and password authentication. Enhanced security features will, the company hopes, encourage businesses to build extranets that will extend to their customers.

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