March 13, 1997 1:45 PM ET
BackWeb to let users download while they work
By Michael Fitzgerald

  LOS ANGELES--In a bid to redefine its role in the push technology market, BackWeb Technologies announced here at Internet World a series of partnerships that turn the push technology into a medium for software distribution.

Aimed at both businesses and consumers, the new partnerships use BackWeb push technology to let users download software upgrades automatically at times when their PC is on, but idle.

"The most exciting thing about it is it will change the way businesses relate to their users," said Eli Barkat, president and CEO of BackWeb, in Mountain View, Calif.

Currently McAfee Associates Inc. distributes VirusScan upgrades via BackWeb. It will now be joined by Inbox Direct, a shareware and freeware distributor; Diamond Multimedia, which will deliver driver upgrades; Expert Software; and Micrografx Inc., which will use BackWeb to handle corporate software upgrades and also to start its Create-a-Card business.

"This is significant for this reason: It shows that push has more applicability than just for the Web," said Victor Varney, Intel Corp.'s director of operations in its Developers Group. "Software is the great dark horse for push technology."

BackWeb also is working with Lotus Development Corp. and BullsEye Inc., an Internet press release service.

Users must have BackWeb's server software to set up the distribution path. Longer term, BackWeb officials said they expect to have bigger audiences for online advertisers, as well.

"I think they're hitting the needs of the corporate market," said Michael Pierantozzi, senior consultant at the McKenna Group, a high-tech consultancy in Palo Alto, Calif. Pierantozzi said companies prefer to get software upgrades in small, incremental chunks, rather than installing massive programs all at once.

Separately, BackWeb announced on Wednesday plans to provide push technology for Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 4.0. (See story, "Microsoft forms 'push' alliance.")

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