In an unexpected alliance between Web browser rivals, Microsoft Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp. are expected to announce they will cooperate to standardize the 3D graphics language for the Web, known as the virtual reality markup language, or VRML.
The announcement will be made at a press conference to be held by the VRML Consortium at SIGGRAPH 97 in early August.
Until now, competing non-standard 3D clients on the Web meant that VRML browsers could only read content created by the same company's products. That slowed development of three-dimensional worlds and content on the Web.
"Incompatibility has been a major barrier for VRML content," said Mark Hardie, senior analyst for market researcher Forrester Research. "As recent as 6 months ago, any VRML toolkit needed its own player, which meant that you would, more than likely, not be able to view 3D content on a particular site."
Microsoft will also announce that it will integrate InterVista Software Inc.'s WorldView 2.0 VRML client into Internet Explorer 4.0, due out this fall. Microsoft has been active in the VRML community, acquiring 3D toolkit maker Dimension X in early May and investing in InterVista itself.
"WorldView follows the VRML standard," said Marisa Shumway, spokesperson for InterVista. "Content creators have always wanted a ubiquitous client browser