Even before the release of Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 5 browser, more than 2 million people had downloaded the beta version of IE 5. The official launch of IE 5 on Thursday was relatively downbeat, taking place at a studio at the Redmond campus, but the message was clear and transmitted worldwide via the Web and by satellite. IE 5 is integral to Microsoft?s strategy, including a Windows 98 upgrade later this year, ?it?s a cornerstone to that,? said Microsoft CEO, Bill Gates.
He added: ?We're integrating [IE 5] into Windows, and we'll be bringing out in the fall timeframe what we call Windows 98, Second Edition. This will appear both as a retail product, and it will be preinstalled on a significant number of the PCs that people buy through the channels.?
Alluding to the large number of third parties building on IE 5, he said, ?Internet Explorer is a platform?.
To date, more than 140 Internet service providers, seven of the top nine portal sites and more than 300 radio stations worldwide are using IE 5. It is available for Windows 3.1, 95 and 98; NT; HP Unix and Sun Solaris; and a Mac version is scheduled for the Autumn.
There are several key enhancements to IE 5, including a new Windows Radio Toolbar that provides users with one-click access to streaming audio content on the Internet while simultaneously browsing the Web.
Microsoft claims that IE 5 has a 25 per cent performance boost over Internet Explorer 4.0 and a 30 to 60 per cent performance edge over Netscape Navigator 4.5.
Also new are the IntelliSense features that simplify complex browsing tasks, and significantly, given Microsoft?s trials and tribulations, new customisation capabilities enable access providers to modify the interface and add new functionality of their own.
Gates said: "Internet Explorer 5 breaks new ground in enabling people to get more out of the Internet than they ever have before. It tackles one of the key challenges in enabling the Web lifestyle by dramatically simplifying and speeding the browsing experience [and] consumers have quick and easy access to all the Internet has to offer.?
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