March 24, 1997 4:00 PM ET
Day One:
Product vignettes from PC Forum

By Jim Louderback

  TUCSON, Ariz. -- Six companies debuted products at PC Forum during the Monday morning general session. As is customary at PC Forum, each company spent five minutes describing the product. Follow-up demonstrations will occur later Monday, and I'll bring you more details on the interesting products.

Centerstage: This application/middleware product will let users integrate data from Web servers, whether from an intranet or from the Internet at large, using existing applications. The product's developers expect Centerstage to help companies extend their enterprise by connecting to data within or between organizations.

Throw: A set of tools and a framework for building interactive communities based on more than chat and threaded discussion groups. With Java-based publishing tools, site developers can create content-based applications, tools and other mechanisms to enable purpose-centered online communities. These communities can be public or private.

Hot Office: Hot Offices technology allows small companies to outsource many of their IS functions via the Web. It uses the Internet to host Web pages, electronic commerce, E-mail and telephony functions on their own private servers. A Java-based client tools allows small businesses that sign up for the service to access this corporate data from anywhere they can find a Java terminal or computer. Bell Atlantic has already signed on to host the Hot Office servers and provide these services to their customer base.

PlaceWare: PlaceWare has designed real-time voice and application conferencing software that works over the Internet. Unlike other conferencing software, PlaceWare's application is designed to support hundreds or thousands of real-time users. Conference participants can communicate with others in a "virtual conference hall," using text- or avatar-based chat. Also, the software includes a rudimentary way to poll attendees on specific topics. Hewlett-Packard is already using the software to conduct Internet-based training sessions. The company anticipates that customers will use it for sales meetings, seminars and focus groups as well. (For more on PlaceWare, see "The next seat may be your own in cyberauditorium.")

NetBot: NetBot showed off its first product, Jango, which provides power-shopping abilities for Internet-based electronic shoppers. The software searches through a large number of online storefronts for a user-specified item. Users can search for a of items broken into 25 categories, including music CDs and movie videos. Search results include a list of stores Jango has visited, the prices that each store lists for a particular product, and in many cases links to reviews about that product taken from Internet sites. (For more on NetBot, see "NetBot introduces 'parallel pull' E-commerce application.")

Intraspect: Intraspect is a knowledge-based repository for organizations that stores a wide range of user- and intranet-related information. Using existing applications, Intraspect's integrated tools allow corporations to collect and organize information by topic, detailing who did what with what topic and what resolutions and decisions were made. Also, the software lets users collaborate when using the knowledge-based repository and discover and reuse the knowledge.

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