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HeadLiner wants to push harder

Another company is jumping into the desktop news business and it's hoping to give PointCast a run for its money.

Another company is jumping into the desktop news business and it's hoping to give PointCast a run for its money.

Lanacom released the beta of its HeadLiner news service, software that automatically delivers news from the Web to users' desktops.

Lanacom has had over 600 downloads since its launch Monday, according to Randy Busch, marketing director at Lanacom.

While the new service delivers news the same way PointCast does, Lanacom claims it gives users greater control over what news will be delivered and how to manage the content once it is available.

"Everything is actually happening from my desktop; there is no server involved. It looks exactly like working with PointCast, as far as viewing information on my screen," Busch said.

But, he said, unlike PointCast, HeadLiner does not connect you to a central server that connects you to content providers the company has deals with. "We take you directly to the content providers," Busch said.

Another key difference is that PointCast is free for the download and is supported by ads. Busch said that HeadLiner will be supported by sales of its upcoming HeadLiner Plus Package. "We aren't out selling advertising. It just isn't part of our business model," Busch said. Users can request information to appear in the news ticker about sites that have been added to the HeadLiner service. But that is the closest HeadLiner gets to advertising, Busch added.

"If you subscribe to Computing, in our news ticker we can put 'This site has been added, that has been added.' We can tell you when new information has been added to our system." The HeadLiner software lets users pick certain categories and even sites within those categories. Users customize the HeadLiner software so that they receive only the news that they are interested in.

All of the sites are broken down by category, such as Financial, Internet, and Sports. Lanacom has added many sites to its lineup, but users who purchase the Plus Package can add their own content sites from anywhere on the Net.

HeadLiner can be downloaded for free and use of the profiled sites will remain free. The Plus Package will be available in the first quarter of 1997 for about $50.

The HeadLiner Plus Package will feature an archive to store information; the ability to read intranet-based email such as Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes, and cc:Mail; monitoring of Usenet newsgroups; and an enterprise server to cache information as well as control the sites that are available to internal network users.

A free beta version for Windows 95 is available at Lanacom's Web site. It will be available for Windows NT, Macintosh, and Windows 3.1 early next year.