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Final Netcaster due next month

Who will make the final push? Netscape posts a third beta version of its Netcaster "push" client software to its Web site, and plans to ship the software next month.

Who will make the final push? Netscape Communications (NSCP) has set its sights on an August final release of its Netcaster "push" client software, the company said.

The company posted preview release 3 of Netcaster to its Web site today.

Netscape is battling Microsoft to win mainstream Net users by turning the Web browser into an automatic receiver of Web pages. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 has just entered its first public beta this week, with a final version due later this year.

Netcaster was due to ship as part of the Communicator suite in June, but the launch was delayed for extra beta testing. The new beta release adds a couple of new features, but the product is "coming down the home stretch," said product manager Tom Tsao.

The third Netcaster beta adds a channel status light. Channels with recently updated information have a green light, those experiencing errors in transmission will have a red light, and those with no new information will have no light at all, according to Tsao.

The second new feature in beta 3 is support for "robots.txt" files so that Web sites can block Netcaster, which uses robot-like "crawler" software to gather and download pages from accessing specific URLs. Crawlers and robots always make the "robots.txt" file of a Web site their first stop on a visit in order to get instructions.

Netscape has so far signed up over 20 channel partners, including ABCNews.com, CNET (publisher of NEWS.COM), CNNfn, Lycos, Federal Express, Yahoo, ZDNet, Wired Digital, Knight-Ridder, and WireNetworks.