IE 4.0 appears and vanishes, new Netscape Communicator due next week

The several-times delayed Internet Explorer 4.0 'platform preview' has appeared and vanished from Microsoft servers in recent days. Private users have reported downloading both NT and Windows 95 versions from several Microsoft ftp servers, but the files have subsequently been removed. Meanwhile, Netscape has signalled the imminent availability of Preview Release 3 of its Communicator Web client.

The several-times delayed Internet Explorer 4.0 "platform preview" has appeared and vanished from Microsoft servers in recent days.

Private users have reported downloading both NT and Windows 95 versions from several Microsoft ftp servers, but the files have subsequently been removed. Meanwhile the IE 4.0 page on the Microsoft Website continues to say the platform preview is about to be released.

IE 4.0 was originally slated for released last month, but was delayed after a slew of security scares - most of them related to the tight integration of OS and browser which Microsoft has pushed as the strongest feature of its new Internet technology.

Meanwhile, Netscape has made available to select developers this week a feature-complete preview version of its Communicator Web client that focuses on security enhancements. A public version of Communicator Preview Release 3 will be posted to the company's Web site next week, according to a Netscape representative.

New security features in Preview Release 3 include support for Secure MIME messaging encryption, support for the object-signing model in the Java Development Kit 1.1, an extension to the Java security "sandbox" that lets Java applets access information from a computer's file system but first alerts the user, and a security advisor for managing passwords.

Other enhancements include improvements to the Dynamic HTML object model; Auto Administration, a utility that lets IS managers preconfigure browsers with push and pull features; and dynamic fonts.

Netscape also will announce next week beefed-up channel support aimed at increasing the number and quality of third-party consultants and systems integrators building electronic-commerce applications with Netscape components.

A check on the status of IE 4.0 can be made at http://www.microsoft.com/ie/ and bolder users can see if there's anyone at home at ftp://ftp1.microsoft.com/msdownload/ie4/

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