The portal, called Shadow, is a push concept, whereby information requested from the Internet is automatically downloaded to a client PC.
In the past, the push concept has attracted bad publicity for the way in which it monopolises download bandwidth. To combat this, BackWeb is introducing its Polite downloading system which only uses spare bandwidth.
When a connection is made, the portal will only move data when there is no other traffic on the line. Downloads can be broken and resumed from the point at which they left off, which is also useful when a connection is broken.
The Shadow toolbar can be conventionally loaded onto a system or supplied over the Internet by a content provider. The toolbar can be customised to include corporate colours and logos and, once downloaded, content from several companies can be included in the pull-down menu environment.
When access to information is requested through the menus, the portal reveals the data through a Shadow "box" or window.
Yaron Samid, BackWeb's director of product management, said, "Content can be anything that suits the supplier. Although the bar is not available until April, one user of our current technology is Cisco, which uses push to supply product information to its sales force on video, rather than documentation. The company is finding this a more effective way of updating its marketing team on the key points and positioning details."
When the toolbar is not in use, it can be reduced to a small logo bar on the title bar of an application that will follow the user as new applications are selected.