Because Microsoft's goal with its long-awaited Internet Explorer 4.0 is to totally revamp PC desktops, officials at the company are calling the initial release of Explorer, set for March, a "platform preview" instead of a more traditional beta cycle.
The difference, seemingly, is one of semantics. It stems from Microsoft's vision of Explorer as the centerpiece of the Active Desktop, which means it will be integrated with the operating system, rather than simply a next-generation browser.
"The plan is to have a platform preview release that is very focused for developers," says group product manager Yusuf Medhi. "Based on that feedback, we'll move to a broader release that appeals more to the end-user instead of just the developer."
"Key technology people should look at the new things like Dynamic HTML," Medhi says. "It's very much a developers-oriented release."
The Explorer team is still working on minor tweaks to the browser, such as a customizable tool bar, AutoComplete typing in the address box, and more ways to document navigation history.
Final release of Internet Explorer for Windows 95 and Windows NT is expected in mid-third quarter, Medhi says