IE 4.0 to get smoother Active Desktop, UI tweaks

Microsoft today confirmed that it is right on target to deliver Internet Explorer 4.0 on its self-imposed September 30, to coincide with Beta 3 of Windows 98.

There will be no more general beta releases of IE although members of the Site Builder programme will get an update. IE 4.0 will also be available as part of a Starter Kit with hints and tips and free access time.

Microsoft usually offers one or two late surprise feature in its IE releases but Internet platforms product manager Martin Gregory was cagey on what they might be. However, he did disclose that users could expect a smoother Active Desktop and tweaks to dialogue boxes and other UI bells and whistles.

Gregory said Microsoft will not follow Netscape and offer a separate browser. "IE has always been a granular install. You don't have to install the news reader or NetShow if you don't want them, for instance," he said.

He also took time out to aim a few jabs at Netscape. "If you look at Netscape as a company they're a very credible marketing organisation who have had stake in the technology for some time. But we went into about 40 companies with the Channel Definition Format (CDF) and they said 'yes' . Only Netscape opposed it and took a proprietary direction with Netcaster .... they did the same thing with JavaScript."

Gregory said that he personally estimates that Microsoft now has just over half the browsers being used in the UK.