A proxy server is designed to boost network performance for intranet users by caching copies of Web pages from the Internet at large. Instead of traversing the Internet, where traffic jams sometime slow the network to a crawl, users can instead quickly retrieve pages from a local proxy server. Such servers can also block access to verboten Web sites.
Microsoft's new beta, code-named Catapult, runs only on Windows NT and is expected to permit caching of files using FTP (file transfer protocol), gopher, and HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). The server's access control settings will piggyback on Windows NT's resident directory services.
With Catapult, Microsoft hopes to offer businesses a more complete line of servers to build their intranets. But the company is still playing catch-up to Netscape Communications, which has been offering its brand-name Proxy Server since last year. A beta version of Netscape's Proxy Server 2.0 is currently available for downloading.
Microsoft has also announced plans to offer directory, search, and certificate servers that will compete with similar products from Netscape. The company has not yet set pricing, packaging, or final availability details.
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