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Netscape sets shipping dates

Final versions of the Communicator Internet client and SuiteSpot 3.0 server are set to ship next Wednesday, but the Netcaster push technology isn't.

The time has arrived for Netscape Communications (NSCP) to ship.

As expected, Netscape said yesterday that it plans to deliver final versions of the Communicator Internet client and SuiteSpot 3.0 server on Wednesday of next week. That's the first day of its conference for Internet developers in San Jose, California. Marc Andreessen, Netscape's senior vice president for technology, formally announced the company's plans today during a keynote speech at the Networld + Interop trade show in Tokyo.

Netcaster, however, is one technology that won't be showing up in final form next week. Netscape says that Netcaster, the push technology feature of Communicator, will require a couple more rounds of beta testing, according to Michael Po, director of client product marketing at Netscape. The company expects to ship it within 30 to 45 days. Communicator users will then be able to download Netcaster as separate component.

"The decision was made that it needed more time in order to meet our requirements and those of our customers," said Greg Sands, group product manager for SuiteSpot.

Netscape is almost certainly facing financial pressure to ship its core client and server products on time so that it can boost its revenues. Netcaster, which entered beta testing months after Communicator, is generally regarded as less immediately vital to the company's sales than its Web browser and email software.

"We felt it was essential to get [SuiteSpot and Communicator] out to market and into customers' hands," Sands said.

Communicator will be available for a free 60-day trial and cost $59 after that. SuiteSpot 3.0, which includes a selection of six Internet servers, will cost $4,995 for up to 100 users.

Next week at its developer conference, Netscape will also release a second version of its Visual Java Script development tool and announce a collection of new software components that will let programmers build applications on top of the SuiteSpot servers.

Netscape says it has signed up more than 30,000 Web sites to offer Communicator for download, part of a campaign called the "Great Net Tuneup."