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BackWeb updates push software

The latest version of the company's push software aims to give businesses more control over when and to whom they broadcast data.

    Push software maker BackWeb Technologies released version 4.0 of its product today, aiming to give businesses more control over when and to whom they broadcast data.

    BackWeb's server pulls information from private or public databases and "broadcasts" it as a series of Web pages to specified PC desktops. The latest release of the push client, dubbed the BackWeb Infocenter, can automatically gather information from multiple sources within a company and organize it for distribution to various channels.

    Channels can be configured to gather data from a company's Web sites, newsgroups, files on a network server, or from within applications or internal databases. Such information then can be delivered to customized "work groups" or to individual users.

    For example, a bank could create Infocenter channels to push daily home interest rates to one department and customers' checking account balances to another--all automatically.

    "They've done some big improvements with the ability to manage information. What people are trying to do is to narrow down the channels, which is called 'narrow-casting,' so you can subscribe to very specific topics," said Alexis dePlanque, senior research analyst for the Meta Group.

    "So if I'm interested in the human resources channel at my company, but just updates about expense reports, I can get this option now if the administrative side sets it up that way," she added.

    Infocenter was built with the help of a small software company called Lanacom, which BackWeb acquired in July.

    BackWeb pushed content can be viewed using Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Netscape's Navigator browsers, both of which offer their own push products. Yesterday, Internet Explorer announced that it would bundle BackWeb's technology in two intranet and extranet solutions designed for small businesses.

    Also sharpening its focus on business Net users is push technology maker PointCast. Last month, PointCast unveiled a new version of its business news channel that included extra news feeds, stock portfolio tracking, and a feature that lets users trade stocks from within the PointCast service.