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Windows on the Web
-- by Amy Helen Johnson
All bets are on push, if the latest releases of the two leading browsers are any indication. Netscape Communicator 4.0 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 both feature built-in channel architectures. IE 4.0 content providers can use Microsoft's Channel Definition Format (CDF) specification to send information directly to the browser's Active Desktop. Netscape's desktop-delivery feature, dubbed Netcaster, brings similar capabilities to Communicator.
That's just the battleground. The ammunition will likely be the content being pushed, and the two competitors are hurling some heavy artillery. By early summer Microsoft had signed up more than a dozen business-oriented information sites, including The Wall Street Journal, Dun & Bradstreet and Forbes; Netscape had attracted the likes of Charles Schwab, Excite, ABC News and Women's Wire.
Industry leader PointCast recently unveiled plans for a corporate broadcast solution designed to let network administrators develop an internal company channel that will run side by side with PointCast's external news channels.
The success of this-or any other-strategy hinges on the emergence of a push standard. Microsoft has already pitched its push technology to the World Wide Web Consortium as a possible standard.