Netscape has had to pull its much-vaunted Netcaster push technology from Communicator, on the eve of the Internet client suite's release this week.
The omission is an embarrassment to the company, which triumphantly proclaimed in April that it was a year ahead of rival Microsoft in the push technology race. Netcaster, which offers channels for the provision of push technology to the desktop, is the key plank in that strategy. Previously codenamed Constellation, the product was originally not scheduled to appear until September, but was brought forward in April and planned to be incorporated into the Communicator release this week.
Speaking to PC Week in April, Sam Sethi, Netscape marketing manager, declared: "The proof is in what you deliver, not what you say. This is not slideware." Sethi was not available for comment last week.
However, Stephen Voller, Netscape's UK managing director, said: "I don't think this will really hurt us. The delay will not impact our customers, and we are still ahead of Microsoft."
Voller confirmed the delay was the result of bugs in the software. There were signs Netcaster could be late when the Communicator beta was posted to the web last month without the push component. Netcaster went into beta testing several months after the rest of the Communicator client.
Netcaster will now ship separately to the Communicator 4.0 package, although exactly when has yet to be announced. Users will have to download it as a separate add-in. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 browser, which is due to ship this summer, is intended have push capabilities built-in.
Communicator, the next generation of Netscape's Navigator client software, has been put back until the start of the company's annual DevCon developer conference, in San Jose, California, this week.
Also at the conference, Netscape will release the latest version of its SuiteSpot server range. SuiteSpot 3.0, comprising nine servers, will debut the Collabra server, a groupware component and the fruit of Netscape's acquisition of Collabra.
DevCon: what's new
New products at DevCon:
Communicator 4.0 - next generation of the Netscape Navigator browser. Will not include Netcaster push component. Price: $59 (u37).
SuiteSpot 3.0 - latest release of Netscape web server range. Made up of nine servers, including the Collabra server, a groupware product for the first time. Price: $4,995.
Mission Control 4.0 - new set of tools for the centralised configuration, distribution and administration of the Communicator client throughout an organisation. Price: $1,995.
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