New Netscape Communicator due Wednesday
By JIM BROOKS
Netscape Corp. announced last week that Communicator, the company's
latest Internet software package, will be released Wednesday.
The release is timed to coincide with the Developer's Conference
the company is hosting in San Jose, Calif., this week.
The stakes are high for Netscape.
In the race to be the top Web-surfing software, Netscape's early
lead has been steadily eroded by Microsoft. While Netscape remains
dominant, Microsoft will release a new version of its Internet Explorer
Web browser to compete with Communicator this summer.
But Communicator is more than a Web browser.
-- a much revamped and improved version of the Navigator Web browser;
-- Messenger, for e-mail.
It has a new look and is very simple to operate. Not only can you
type messages, you can e-mail Web pages to another user as well.
Messenger also includes an expanded address book for e-mail and
the ability to create drafts before sending finished messages.
-- Collabra, a newsgroup reader;
-- Composer, a "What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get"
(WYSIWYG) HTML and Web page editor;
-- Conference for live chats in text and voice;
-- and finally, the latest addition, Netcaster.
Navigator will be what the majority of folks use most, and it is
a major improvement over earlier versions of Netscape Navigator.
One of the biggest improvements is the ease of use of the overall
package. Three menu bars now reside at the top of the screen --
each can be minimized with a single mouse click. And the menu bars
can be stacked in any order.
Bookmarks are easier to use now; a button for them is provided
on one of the menu bars.
The third menu bar can be set up for personal favorites, sort of
like having your "Home" button set-up for multiple favorite
spots on the Web. This menu bar replaces the one that contained
the Directory buttons, and is probably one of the biggest advancements
My next-favorite application in Communicator is Composer. It's
an excellent Web page editor that requires no knowledge of HTML.
While there's no cost to try Communicator, it isn't free software;
but if you want to create Web pages, Composer's easy-to-use interface
makes it well worth Communicator's price.
Netcaster, Netscape's "push" technology for its Web software,
won't be functional when Communicator debuts this week, company
Some bugs reported a couple of weeks ago in a preview release of
Communicator have pushed Netcaster's debut back about 30 days, according
to Netscape. But the company remains strongly enthusiastic about
what Netcaster will add to the Communicator package.
"Push" technology means the software retrieves Web pages
and content automatically and can be viewed at a later time. The
PointCast Network pioneered "push," and now both Netscape
and Microsoft are incorporating it into their new Web software packages.
MICROSOFT HELPS. Microsoft not only has been working to
add "push" to its next-generation Web browser, it's writing
the format that likely will become the standard.
In creating the its Channel Definition Format (CDF), Microsoft
is extending support to include the competition -- Netscape's own
Two competing "push" formats would create confusion among
users and obviously, Microsoft's move will remove a potential stumbling
block that could have damaged the usefulness of "push"
for both companies' products.
To find out more about Netscape, visit their Web site at http://home.netscape.com.
Microsoft's Web site has the latest update on the soon-to-be-released
Internet Explorer 4.0 at http://www.microsoft.com/.
CNN NEWS REDUX. If you have a nose for news -- or like to
read the latest -- you'll want to visit CNN's new Web site, CNN
Custom News service.
CNN and Oracle have teamed up to put the new news service together.
It uses the same content available at the CNN Web sites. However,
it is arranged into an more useful format and divided into categories
that suit the user.
Each user can customize the "mix" of the news content
on their CNN Custom News page. Six profiles -- ranging from "A
little of everything" (equal content from eight categories)
to "Sports" and "Lifestyle & Showbiz," which
concentrate solely on related categories, are available.
In addition to the ready-to-go profiles, you can custom design
one to suit your own news interests.
To check it out yourself, visit the CNN Custom News Web page at
AOL PUSHES FORWARD. Jumping on the "push" bandwagon,
America Online announced this week that its new software -- due
for release next month -- would incorporate similar technology.
AOL Driveway will be packaged with AOL 4.0, and the software will
offer scheduled access to the service. Once setup, Driveway will
automatically dial-in to AOL and download e-mail, news and other
AOL has long offered something called "Flash Sessions,"
which are automated e-mail transfers. AOL Driveway expands this
concept, which may alleviate some of the access problems for subscribers
by giving the the option of downloading information automatically
during off-peak hours.
DOMAIN GAME. What's a name worth -- specifically, an Internet
That may vary with the name, but a Texas company decided that "business.com"
was worth a cool $150,000.
The price was the highest reported selling price of an Internet
domain name, according to Idnames, a domain name broker.
Interestingly, the "business.com" domain name -- held
by Business Systems International of London, a banking software
company -- obtained the name some four years ago.
At no charge.
Who said there's no profit in Internet commerce?