Punch Upgrades Net-Based File-Sharing Service

By John S. McCright  |  Posted 2003-02-03

Punch Networks Corp. this week will begin shipping Version 4.0 of WebGroups, an Internet-based file-sharing and collaboration service.

The upgrade extends the services file collaboration capabilities by adding a new access option for nonmembers, an embedded MP3 player, a slide-show player, thumbnail views of folders and personalization enhancements, according to officials at Seattle-based Punch.

Version 4.0 refines the capability for users to grant access to a Web folder. When a manager grants access to a folder, he or she can limit when and to whom files within the folder are open. Punch said this is useful for such things as time-sensitive corporate announcements and privacy-sensitive requests for comment. The Global Jukebox feature in 4.0, developed with Copia Technologies Inc., enables users to upload MP3 files into their WebGroup Web space and play them from any Web browser with a Copia Java-based Freedom Audio Player.

Simple Slide Show lets users fill a folder with electronic picture files, such as JPEGs or GIFs, and automatically converts them into a slide-show presentation that plays in a separate window. The software scales down images to fit a computer screen.

If an MP3 file is stored in the folder, the software will play it as background music while the slide show is viewed. Punch officials said this feature could be useful for ad hoc corporate presentations.

Punch will release a preview of a new synchronization feature, WebDrive Synchronization Engine, which will let users synchronize files in a WebGroup to hard drives for work offline. WebDrive SyncEngine, as it is known, runs in the background on Windows and synchronizes files in a folder named Punch WebDrive in a users My Documents directory. Users can also have their WebDrive appear as a local drive within Windows Explorer, Punch officials said.

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