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Communicator beta now has push

Netscape posts the first public beta version of its Communicator Internet software to include Netcaster, the company's push technology software.

Netscape Communications has posted the first public beta version of its Communicator Internet software to include Netcaster, the company's push technology software.

The software can be downloaded from Netscape's Web site or from CNET's DOWNLOAD.COM. Netcaster is currently available only for Windows 95 and NT.

Like PointCast and other companies offering push or Webcasting software, Netscape is touting Netcaster as a more efficient means of broadcasting information to users over the Internet. Instead of requiring a user to proactively check a Web site, push technology enables them to automatically receive information beamed to their computers.

Because Netscape is integrating its push software directly with its browser, the company will compete closely with Microsoft, which is doing the same with its forthcoming Internet Explorer 4.0 browser. Explorer 4.0 is scheduled to ship in the summer, while Communicator is supposed to ship in June.

Netscape released Netcaster to developers last week, but today is the first time the company has released the software to the general public. Last week, a company spokeswoman said that Netscape would also release a Macintosh, Unix, and Windows 3.1 version of Communicator with Netcaster this week, but only the Windows version appears to be online now.

Company officials could not be reached for comment.

Earlier today, Netscape said that it will feature Marimba's 100 channel partners in the "channel finder" feature of Netcaster.

More than ten channels are now accessible to developers who have downloaded Netcaster. It will be available for public download and beta testing from the Netscape site next week.

Marimba channel partners include Astrology.Net, Corel, Mapquest, Pencil Me In, Playsite.com, and Sesame Street, among others. Other content providers, including Charles Schwab, Excite, Federal Express, Kaplan Educational Centers, and Wire Networks, announced their support for the technology, a spokeswoman said.

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