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Web caching system launches

Intel has announced the rollout of technology dubbed "Quick Web," which speeds the delivery of Web pages to users' desktops.

Intel (INTC) today announced technology dubbed "Quick Web," which speeds the delivery of Web pages to users' desktops.

As previously reported, the product has been in trials with some Internet service providers since November and the launch was expected today.

GlobalCenter, a digital distribution company, today introduced the product, to be followed by Internet providers Netcom and Erols Internet by February 1, according to Dave Preston, marketing manager for Quick Web. Sprint has been testing Quick Web as well but has not firmed up a date for launch.

Quick Web--which has its own icon, "Quick Web Technology," akin to "Intel Inside"--is another example of the explosion of products that speed the delivery of Web pages, a mounting problem with the use of more complex graphics.

The best speed improvement will come with graphic-rich sites such as NASA, while the gains will be less with text-based sites, Intel executives said. Some of the resolution may be lost for the most graphically intense pages when they are quickly downloaded. GlobalCenter plans to charge $5 per month, Erols costs $15 for a three-month subscription, and Netcom is $30 for a six-month period. The ISPs and Intel will jointly market the product.

Some Web publishers have expressed concern that caching technologies like these may impede their ability to deliver the most current information to users, as well as accurately measure how many users visit their sites. Preston said, "We've done our best" to alleviate those concerns.

The technology follows Intel's purchase last year of a stake in Inktomi, which has its own caching product, dubbed "Traffic Server." The two companies also struck a porting agreement on Traffic Server. (Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)

The Web sites of Intel and the ISPs that are supporting Quick Web indicated last week that Quick Web was close to launch.

Quick Web is supposed to reduce download wait time through caching technology. Users don't have to add software or hardware; it works with their Web browser, either Netscape Communications' Navigator or Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Another feature, dubbed a "Web-O-Meter," measures how much speed is gained when you use it. Intel claims preliminary lab tests show that "most users will see Web pages in half the time."

Cisco Systems, Novell, Microsoft, and Netscape, among others, all participate in this market.