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A smarter distribution tool

Open Software Associates says it has a better way to distribute software, including a way to ensure the client will know how to download and install it.

Open Software Associates says it has a better way to distribute software.

The company today announced netDeploy 3.0, a tool for deploying software, whether commercial packages or code developed in-house, through the Net and corporate intranets.

OSA president Graeme Greenhill said the tool can be adapted to handle the commercial sale of software over the Net, including payment handling, installation, and version updating.

netDeploy 3.0 also includes new client and server components, better security and administration tools than previous versions, and compliance with the OSD (Open Software Description) standard proposed this summer by Microsoft and push software pioneer Marimba.

OSD is based on XML, which stands for "extensible markup language." XML is not yet a standard but is under development by the World Wide Web Consortium.

OSD's objective is to provide an interoperability standard for software description so that the client, usually a browser, will know how to download and install it.

Greenhill maintained that his company's tools appeal to a broader potential audience than Marimba's Castanet. But the two tools' functions clearly overlap. Version 2.0 of Castanet, which was announced earlier this month, is intended to deliver applications and other software updates over the Internet or a corporate network directly to users' desktops.

netDeploy offers more features aimed at commercial software distributors, however. For instance, OSA has inked a deal with Release Software, an online software distributor, to include netDeploy as part of applications packaged for distribution over the Net.

The tool also competes with software distribution and management tools from Novadigm and BackWeb.

netDeploy consists of two components, a server-based Packer and a client-based Launcher. The company said the Packer is a tool for developing a downloadable catalog of where an application's components can be found and how they should be installed. The Launcher uncompresses the downloaded files and executes the resulting application.

Greenhill said the tool is priced from $295 for a single Packer to upwards of $15,000 for a site license that enables the distribution of Launcher components. The Launcher is available free of charge to individual users for non-commercial use.