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Starwave hedges its bets

Even though Starwave will provide newsfeeds through Netscape's Netcaster, it isn't betting everything on any one push technology model.

Even though Starwave has cut a deal to provide newsfeeds to users of Netscape Communications' (NSCP) Netcaster, the online publisher isn't betting everything on any one push technology model.

The company is preparing to test its own Starwave Direct push service and software within the next 15 days, Patrick Naughton, president and chief technology officer of Starwave, said today. As reported by CNET's NEWS.COM, Starwave will offer special client software written in Java that allows users to tune in to broadcasts from all of the company's Web sites.

Starwave publishes more than ten sites, including ESPNET SportsZone and the entertainment site Mr. Showbiz. Beginning May 1, it will offer ABC News.com in conjunction with ABC.

Earlier this month, ABC's parent company, Walt Disney, purchased an undisclosed minority stake in the privately held Starwave.

The launch of its latest Web site will coincide with Starwave's first serious foray into push technology. Like other publishers, Starwave intends to use push to automatically deliver news, sports scores, and other information to users without requiring them to surf in search of it.

Today, Starwave and Netscape announced that ABC News.com would become the premier news channel included with Netcaster, a push feature that will show up in Netscape Communicator within the next 30 days. Microsoft is also mounting a challenge to Netcaster with its own Internet Explorer push technology, called the Active Desktop.

Starwave will support both Netcaster and the Active Desktop so that it can reach the broadest possible audience. But the company will also offer its own Java push client as well. Naughton said Starwave hopes to provide a more engaging user interface than can be accomplished with Microsoft's and Netscape's push solutions.

The company refers to all of its push efforts as Starwave Direct. The Java client will be available on the Starwave site for downloading and will include less than 1MB of files.

Founded in 1993, Starwave's majority stakeholder is Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. Allen is also an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.