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BackWeb speeds push technology

BackWeb has introduced new versions of client and server push software that allows users to automatically receive software and information on their desktops.

BackWeb Technologies is trying to make its "push" technology feel less like a shove.

The company has introduced new versions of its client and server software that allows users to automatically receive software and information on their desktops. BackWeb is trying to strengthen the software underpinnings of its service in what is becoming a highly competitive market populated by competitors such as PointCast and Marimba.

Collectively, push technology companies try to cut through the din of information on the Net by delivering personalized news headlines and other information directly to a user's computer instead of making them proactively surf Web sites.

The new client and server, BackWeb 2.0, are designed to make tuning into BackWeb broadcasts simpler by easing the amount of time required to download information. To that end, the new products support compression and "differential downloads," a feature that only downloads new information onto a user's desktop. Today, BackWeb also introduced a proxy server that stores a copy of BackWeb channels on company networks.

Because BackWeb can also deliver software, such as virus updates, in addition to information, the company has added a versioning feature in 2.0. That feature can check to see whether a user, for example, has the latest virus update or software patch.

Users can download the BackWeb client from the company's Internet site.

The new features could help BackWeb as competition among push technology companies becomes increasingly fierce. The company makes its money by selling server software--which starts at $10,500--to information and software providers, such as McAfee and Wall Street Journal Interactive.

Marimba, more than PointCast, has the same business model. But Marimba claims its technology is better than BackWeb's for managing the distribution of applications throughout a network.