Microsoft has delayed the "platform preview" release of Internet Explorer 4.0 until the end of this month, but that didn't stop officials at the Spring Internet World '97 conference, in Los Angeles, from showing off push-delivery and animation details in the existing code.
Platform preview is Microsoft's moniker for the first beta release of Explorer.
Microsoft admitted to the delay a week after three security flaws were discovered in Internet Explorer (IE) 4.0. In response to the problems, Microsoft recently reached an arrangement with the Computer Emergency Response Team and other security experts to review browser security, said Yusuf Mehdi, a group product manager.
Other measures include a new Web page, called Security Adviser, to keep users abreast of security issues, and an email address for reporting problems (email@example.com), Mehdi said.
When IE 4.0's platform preview does ship, it will include:
• Smart Favorites, a utility that tells users whether or not anything on their favorite Web pages has changed;
• Outlook Express messaging client (IE 4.0 will work with existing email clients such as cc:Mail);
• FrontPad, a lighter version of the FrontPage Web authoring tool;
• Explorer Administration Kit updates, that let IS managers control what gets "pushed" to the desktops of users; and
• Dynamic HTML, a technique for making HTML elements into an object model that can be animated. Dynamic HTML also enables data for secondary links to stream to a desktop with a page without requiring a separate server call.
Also, IE 4.0 will work as a shell for Windows 95, and users can set up their interface as an Active Desktop that receives information from the Internet and intranets.
Conference attendees appeared impressed with demonstrations, but several said the proof will be in the yet unavailable code.
"It looks great, but I've just seen the marketing hype. Who knows how it really works?" wondered one attendee on the show floor who asked to remain anonymous.
The final version of IE 4.0, which is still scheduled for midyear release, will support the Channel Definition Format (CDF) for push delivery, but CDF won't be available in the platform preview, according to Dave Fester, a product manager.