With Windows 98 ? which includes Internet Explorer 4 - still two weeks from shipping, Microsoft is moving ahead with the next iteration of its browser.
On Thursday it posted an early preview version of Internet Explorer 5.0 on its Web site.
The preview is aimed at software developers. Internet Explorer 5.0 looks and works much like the current 4.0 version with most enhancements under the hood.
The browser will offer extended support of DHTML (Dynamic Hypertext Mark-up Language), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and XML (eXtendable Mark-up Language), allowing for richer Web pages with moving, interactive objects.
A new feature called DHTML Behaviors is said to make the language easier to use for Web developers, separating the content of a Web page from its 'behaviour'. A DHTML Behavior component can be written in any scripting language and describe the workings of any part of an HTML page ? for instance, text moving from left to right on the page.
One of the main advances in IE 5.0 is that it will be more modular, allowing it to run in less memory. Microsoft also hopes this will also make IE a more attractive platform for software developers, who can integrate the components in their own applications.
End users will benefit from new drag and drop support, allowing them to drag objects from Web pages to other applications, such as a word processor.
Meanwhile, Netscape is working, in parallel, on two new versions of its browser. Communicator 4.x is expected to enter beta in July. It will offer a Smart Browsing feature, allowing users to type in a company or brand name and be directed to the company?s home page.
In parallel, Netscape is working on Communicator 5.0, for which early sourcecode is now available for free download from its Web site. Communicator 5.0 will include input from third party developers and from volunteers in the Internet community. A first beta version is expected by the end of 1998.
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