Microsoft has added Java support to the 16-bit version of its Internet Explorer Web browser.
Internet Explorer 3.01 for Windows 3.1 and Windows NT 3.51, which features an integrated Java virtual machine, is available free at Microsoft's Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/ie/free/).
Microsoft's 32-bit version of Explorer already supports Java, and it promised Windows 3.1 users last year that it would add Java support to the 16-bit version. It needed to do so to stay competitive with Netscape, which now offers Java support in a beta version of its Navigator browser for Windows 3.1, according to one analyst. But to corporate users, the majority of whom have yet to migrate their desktops to Windows 95 or Windows NT Workstation 4.0, the ability to run Java applets in a browser won't be a crucial feature until 1998.
"Having Java capability isn't key for most companies [with Windows 3.1 desktops] because most companies don't have Java applications out there," says Tom Rhinelander, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The people who are experimenting with Java today have Windows 95 and Windows NT on their desktops."