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April 16, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:52pm


By CBR Staff Writer

For Constellation, now read Netcaster. That is the name Netscape Communications Corp yesterday gave to its user interface technology which is now part of its Communicator browser-cum- groupware product. It’ll be available in what is called the fourth preview release of Communicator, due within 30 days and in a commercial release of Communicator due around June, according to Netscape co-founder and senior VP technology Marc Andreessen. Netcaster includes push technology to deliver web content through so-called channels. This will put it head-to-head with Microsoft Corp’s Internet Explorer 4.0 that also employs push technology and a channel model. Each channel would be from a different content provider, or contain corporate information if used in an intranet environment. Communicator will come pre-configured with channels from some of Netscape’s content partners, including CNNfn, ABC News and Gartner Group, plus a whole host of other content providers have signed up to offer channels that are supported by the Netcaster part of Communicator. Content is pushed down the channels in HTML, Java or JavaScript form, so most existing web content can be published via Netcaster channels. Netscape VP marketing Mike Homer said most of the content deals are on a preferential marketing basis rather than exclusive, so that each company promotes the other’s product. In addition to the regular channels, Netcaster also features what Netscape calls a webtop. This is a channel that is anchored to the desktop, showing a full screen of the user’s favorite channels – taking over the desktop, as Andreessen put it. There’s also to be a Channel Finder feature on Netscape’s website for what it considers the best channels on offer, and off-line caching capability so that a channel’s content can be downloaded to a local cache and viewed later. Netcaster also includes Marimba Inc’s Castanet Tuner client software, so Castanet’s channels are also available to Netcaster users. Andreessen said Netcaster supports most micropayment technologies including CyberCash if they’re implemented at the server end. He also envisioned the day that Netcaster could be used for pushing down to non-PC devices, inlcuding telephones and the like. Communicator with Netcaster will cost $59 for the basic version featuring Navigator 4.0, Messenger, the Composer HTML tool, Collabra groupware and Conference audio conferencing. The Professional edition that adds 3270 terminal emulation and Calendar for scheduling and AutoAdmin for central administration costs $79.

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