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WebCompass points to future

Quarterdeck CEO Anatoly Tikhman hopes that the next-generation search tool will steady the company's course as it refocuses on the software utilities business.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada--As the company jockeys to reposition itself as a utilities vendor, Quarterdeck (QDEK) nevertheless this week introduced a new version of its Internet search and agent tool for Windows 95, WebCompass 2.0.

Earlier this year, Quarterdeck nearly became a high-profile casualty of the early Internet boon. After acquiring companies such FutureLabs and StarNine Technologies in an effort to turn itself into a major Internet player, the company posted near-catastrophic losses and disposed of nearly all of its senior management team, including former CEO Gaston Bastiaens.

"We've been through a hard time," King Lee, who is sharing the office of company CEO with Anatoly Tikhman, said today. "We're coming out of the dead pioneer stage. We were almost dead as a result of the pioneer stage. But we made it."

Now, Quarterdeck is largely backing away from marketing products such as its Quarterdeck Mosaic Web browser and WebTalk Internet telephone to focus on its core software utilities business. Still, the company is hedging its bets with its WebCompass product.

Like the previous version of the product, WebCompass 2.0 piggybacks on existing Net search services such as Yahoo and Excite, allowing users to perform simultaneous searches from a single user interface.

Quarterdeck has improved the speed of the tool by writing it as native Windows 95 application rather than an HTML interface. The company has also added new agent capabilities that allow the product to monitor search engines for particular topics at scheduled times. The new version of the tool also provides better offline viewing capabilities than its predecessor.

WebCompass 2.0 is available today for $49.95.