March 11, 1997 6:15 PM ET
FreeLoader 2.5 offers greater control over search results
By Renee Deger

  FreeLoader Inc. today released FreeLoader 2.5, an upgrade of its Webcasting program that delivers news content from the company's parent, Individual Inc., and includes other key features.

FreeLoader's Webcasting software delivers both newsfeeds and Web pages according to specific interests designated by a user, but the newest version gives users more control over search results, said Mark Pincus, CEO of San Francisco-based FreeLoader.

The new version uses Macromedia Inc.'s Shockwave so users can view video streams as well as audio and video clips on the Web, said Pincus.

The company has also addressed with wizards what Pincus said was a great failing among programs downloaded off the Internet that do not come with instructions.

"Historically, people bought software in the store, and it came with a handbook," said Pincus. "With FreeLoader 2.5, there is a wizard that holds your hand while installing the software and setting up the user profile."

For example, the program incorporates HotWired Inc.'s HotBot search engine to run Web searches automatically and lets users decide how often those searches should be conducted. In addition, the search results will appear as abstracts so users do not have to click on each entry to find out what it contains, said Pincus.

Pincus said FreeLoader 2.5 has tried to address the problem of information overload by employing other push technologies. "Release 2.5 allows users to designate what kinds of information they want by category instead of the more general channels, so news and Web sites of interest are more targeted," said Pincus.

That will come in handy since the newest release incorporates some 700 news providers that Individual carries.

"Adding Individual's news content in Version 2.5 is the only synergy the two companies have realized" since Individual bought FreeLoader last summer, said Pincus. Once the companies teamed up, they discovered divergent interests. Rather than dilute the focus of either company, Pincus said Individual has decided to sell off FreeLoader.

"We need to find a company willing to make a bigger bet on push [technology]," said Pincus, who said Individual expects to consummate a sale within the next few weeks.

FreeLoader also is unveiling a new platform for its push technology, nicknamed Gorilla, this week in Los Angeles at the Internet World trade show. That software focuses on delivering news only to users rather than including Web sites as FreeLoader 2.5 does, said Pincus.

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