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Downloading made manageable

Manageable Software Services offers a free software tool that scans the Web and alerts users when software updates are available for programs running on their machines.

A new start-up company out of Silicon Valley would like to update your software for you.

Manageable Software Services is offering a free software tool that scans the Web and alerts users when software updates are available for programs running on their machines.

Catch Up Scanner is a Windows 3.1, 95, and NT-based application available free on the company's Web site that scans local drives, inventories applications, and lets users know what update information exists. Users can submit a form generated by the Scanner software to a Catch Up Web server. The server then identifies known upgrades and provides a list of links to users.

In an era when companies software production cycles are as short as two to three months, users are often left in the dark concerning upgrades and enhancements to software on their PC's, according to Nathaniel Saal, the 24-year old president of the new company.

"That product cycle does have consequences--that's the communication gap between producer and user," said Daal.

Daal said his company would focus on shareware and freeware applications for the moment. He said he hopes to one day offer software as a service on a commission basis from makers.

Manageable Software Services keeps a database of download sites so that users receive the latest and best functioning download sites available, according to the company.

Nick Gall, an analyst with the Meta Group consultancy, said the company has taken steps to provide a nonintrusive form of software updating, rather than surreptitiously gaining information about desktop configurations.

"There's a whole bunch of these automatic updating services that are popping up," Gall said. By focusing on shareware and freeware applications, Manageable Software Services is targeting a different market, he said. "It could be a nice little niche for them."

Other services, such as Oil Change from CyberMedia, focus on commercial software updates.

"Whether these companies win or lose is determined by how cost effective they gather this information," Gall said.