The Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF) is working on a standard that will bring browsers and email closer together, allowing whole Web pages or sites to be attached to email messages.
The standard is called MHTML (Mime Encapsulation of Aggregate HTML Documents) and uses the existing Mime email technology as its base. All the components of a Web site could be sent as attachments and then reassembled, allowing the recipient to view a site without needing Web access.
An important use of this technology in corporates is expected to be push services, which send selected Web sites to employees without giving them unrestricted Net access. Analysts point out that it will remove the main advantage that the Web has over email as a communications method, its ability to handle complex images and multimedia.
Current offerings such as Netscape?s Inbox just send pointers to Web sites, so that users still need Net links to obtain fuill content. Lotus plans to incorporate MHTML in its forthcoming Notes client, Maui, by the end of this year, while Microsoft already has an early version in its Outlook 98 and Internet Explorer products.
The disadvantage of the technology is that complex Web sites - which may amount to several gigabytes in size - may take all night to download via email, making it less convenient than delivering multimedia files via technologies such as laser disk or digital video disk. And some observers worry that sending massive files will clog up companies? already groaning network bandwidth.
The standard is still at draft stage and is expected to be completed in about one year?s time.
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