A system and method for distributing software applications and data to many thousands of clients over a network. The applications are called "channels", the server is called the "transmitter", and the client is called the "tuner". The use of channels is based on subscription. The end-user needs to subscribe to channel before it can be executed. When the end-user subscribes to a channel the associated code and data is downloaded to the local hard-disk, and once downloaded the channel can be executed many times without requiring further network access. Channels can be updated automatically at regular intervals by the tuner, and as a result the end-user is no longer required to manually install software updates, instead these software and data updates are automatically downloaded and installed in the background. This method of automatic downloading of updates achieves for the client the same result as the broadcast distribution of software over a connection based network, but wherein the client initiates each update request without requiring any special broadcast networking infra structure.