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PointCast 2.0 to help business

PointCast is preparing a new version of its client software that may remedy some of the corporate complaints about the product.

As the push technology market becomes more competitive, PointCast is preparing a new version of its client software that may remedy some of the chief complaints about the product, including lagging performance and lack of controls for information systems managers, sources said.

As previously reported, PointCast is preparing to launch a public beta test for its PointCast 2.0 client as early as the end of this month. The new version will of the software will implement performance improvements such as a reduced memory footprint and download size, as well as native 32-bit Windows support, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

In addition, the company will introduce technology that allows IS managers to control what information channels a user is able to tune into, the sources noted.

The new features are among those most often requested by corporate customers, the audience PointCast claims it is most eager to serve. The company is facing pressure from Microsoft and Netscape Communications, as well as smaller companies like Wayfarer Communications, which assert that they will provide facilities for screening out channels.

PointCast pioneered the area of push or Webcasting technology, giving publishers a way to beam everything from daily horoscopes to stock data to special receiver software, rather than requiring users to actively visit sites for the same information. Currently, the company claims to have 1.2 million users who regularly tune into broadcasts. However, corporations are not necessarily excited about their employees tuning into sports scores from their desks, for example.

Earlier this month, PointCast indicated that the 2.0 version of its software would offer filtering capabilities for its new Connections channel. Connections is a public access channel that will let any Web publisher broadcast information to PointCast users. The new control features will let IS managers regulate other channels on the PointCast Network.

Sources said that PointCast 2.0 will also be zippier than the previous versions of the software, at least on Windows 95 and NT. The company will continue to offer a 16-bit client for Windows 3.1, and a beta version of the Macintosh client will follow later.