In an effort to make Web browsing more personal, Netscape Communications has launched a new service that lets users build their own home pages.
Netscape's new service, Personal Workspace, lets Navigator users customize the layout of their home page, including the set-up of frames and background colors, as well as hyperlinks to their favorite Web sites. The company provides several categories, such as search engines, news, and references, from which users can choose specific sites.
According to Netscape officials, Personal Workspace is intended to serve primarily as a showcase for Netscape technology and how it can create a more personal experience for end users.
The release of Personal Workspace is part of a shift from a broadcast Web metaphor--where all users that access a site get the same material--to more customized, or narrowcast, communications that deliver information, such as news feeds or search services tailored to an individual's interests.
Microsoft already offers a similar service on its Microsoft Network Web site. Unlike Personal Workspace, which only offers links to Web pages, the MSN site allows users to select links to FTP, Usenet newsgroups, and other sites.
Netscape officials acknowledged that the new service is an effort to increase site traffic, and in turn advertising revenues, on its already phenomenally popular Web site. The site received 50 million hits in one day last week, according to Bergson.
"I think Netscape and Microsoft are so large that they can't afford to invade the privacy [of users]," said Stephan Somoygi, senior editor at Digital Media. "Smaller companies might do it, though. Over time, there will be increasingly less scrupulous people out there."