Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 is finally available for download - but, possibly with reason, Microsoft is warning off everyone but developers and IT professionals.
The official release comes on top of an embarrassing glitch earlier this week which saw Microsoft leave its ftp server open to the public in the course of delivering its "platform preview" to developers.
The file is available for download via http://www.microsoft.com/ie/ie40/download/ but the associated servers are very busy and even Microsoft estimates a four-hour download for the 11Mb minimum install.
Furthermore, it appears downloads from the official Microsoft site can only be made by connecting with an existing version of Microsoft Internet Explorer. This is because the download requires the use of Microsoft's Active Setup Wizard, which works only with MSIE.
There is an IE 4.0b1 file available locally (to ALL browsers) at http://www.tucows.sinesurf.co.nz/files/ie4stw95.exe but this appears to be a preliminary beta released some time before Sunday. This beta can, howver, be downloaded, installed and used to connect with the download page noted above.
From there, it can run the the Active Setup Wizard (select "run" rather than "save" when the dialog box appears) which will scan the user's hard drive for previously installed MSIE components and then present a selection panel listing components which have not been previously installed, or which are ugrades from an existing MSIE component. This is a smaller download than getting the whole file.
@IDG makes no guarantees whatsoever for the efficacy of this method, but it has worked for some people.
Microsoft also notes that IE 4.0 cannot be run on PC which also uses IE 3.0, and recommends installtion on a different machine which is not required for day-to-day use. Users are also given the option of downloading the "shell integration" feature, which allows HTML to be displayed on the Windows desktop but requires an extra 8Mb RAM.
Meanwhile, it appears that Netscape has made the feature-complete PR3 release of its Communicator client available online to anybody who cares to click on the existing link to the PR2 file. Whatever browser they happen to use.