Microsoft is considering a crash diet for its bloated Internet Explorer browser, cutting Java and ActiveX support from the basic version in the next update.
The vendor said this week that its development teams have considered repackaging Explorer.
"We want to make the base browser as small as possible to reduce download times," said Mike Pryke-Smith, a Microsoft UK marketing manager.
Microsoft said if the plans were implemented, Java and ActiveX support would disappear from the basic version of the browser. They are only needed by corporate users, who are not affected by download times, it said.
Pryke-Smith rejected speculation that Microsoft will charge corporate users for Java support. He said the company would not charge for features required to access mainstream content, but also said that consumers do not need ActiveX or Java support because only three per cent of the Web sites they encounter use either technology.
An IT manager at one UK organisation, which is currently deploying IE 4.0 to 4,500 users, agreed that the browser has become bloated. "Internet Explorer 4.0 is big, there's no doubt about it. It takes us just as long to install as it takes for a complete installation of NT 4.0 and Office 97," he said.
A repackaging move by Microsoft would mirror Netscape's decision late last year to stop including the Java Virtual Machine in its Navigator browser, directing users instead to download it from Sun's Web site.
Tim Stammers is deputy news editor of Computing.
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