Browser war gets ridiculous

The 'browser war' has entered a new phase this week, with both Netscape and Microsoft plugging the features of version 4.0 of their respective browsers before either has a release version of 3.0.

The "browser war" has entered a new, slightly ridiculous, phase this week, with both Netscape and Microsoft plugging the features of version 4.0 of their respective browsers before either has a release version of 3.0.

Significantly, hints from both companies came in the context of "intranet" announcements. Netscape technical director Marc Andreessen's "vision" white paper promises that by December, Navigator 4.0 (code-named "Galileo") will include:

*Drag and drop editing of HTML email; mail filtering; text searching of messages; S/MIME support for encrytpted email.

*Support for "trusted" Java applets (which are permitted to access local hard drives and connected with other servers); more class libraries, including some which will enable the creation of entire user interfaces in Java; support for the Borland JavaAppAccelerator compiler.

*Be afraid, frame-haters--something called "3D layered frames" is coming.

*Improved content-creation features, including clip-art, style sheets, Javascript objects, font selection, file conversion tools and (shades of Microsoft) a "wizard" to help out.

*Automatic plug-in installation.

Microsoft, meanwhile, provided a peek at Internet Explorer 4.0 in the course of Intranet Strategy Day, a major showpiece hosted by CEO Bill Gates in San Jose. No detailed feature list was provided, with the emphasis instead being on the integration of Explorer with the Windows operating system courtesy of Windows Active Desktop technologies, which will provide "seamless access to information of all types, regardless of location". Beyond the browser, Gates also previewed Office 97, an Internet-savvy version of its familiar suite of desktop applications.

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