Microsoft delays Mac IE 5

Mac will have to wait longer for next version of IE because of ongoing work on "bells and whistles".

Microsoft is pushing back its shipping schedule for the next Mac version of Internet Explorer.

According to an email from Irving Kwong, product manager with Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit, Internet Explorer 5.0 for the Mac will ship this winter, instead of autumn, as originally planned. The Windows version of the Web browser debuted in March.

Kwong, reached at his office in Redmond, Washington, told ZDNet sister publication MacWEEK the delay was the result of more than a year of work on Tasman, the browser's page-rendering engine, and to attempts to add "cool end-user features". One such feature, Auction Manager, will let users track online auctions from inception to completion. Kwong said there will be other Mac-exclusive features in IE 5.0 but declined to specify them.

Kwong also says that the Tasman engine will offer "strict compliance" with the open standards for Web markup set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a nonprofit international industry group. The Cascading Style Sheets 1 standard will be fully implemented, Kwong says, and the upgrade will provide partial support for CSS2. Kwong also hints that both the Mac and Windows versions of the software will support Microsoft's Document Object Model (DOM) calls, enabling any version of the browser to create new types of page elements.

By contrast, Microsoft's Outlook Express 5.0 email client remains on track for an autumn release, Kwong said.

While Kwong says he had "nothing to announce" about the possibility of other Microsoft consumer applications moving to the Mac, he says the company is "revisiting" its options, spurred by the success of Apple's consumer-oriented iMac.

As for the future of Microsoft Office on the Mac platform, Kwong said that while the Mac Business Unit has "started thinking about the next version of Mac Office," although no concrete work has been done on the product. "It's a long ways off yet," Kwong says.

Kwong also said Mac OS X Client has received some attention from the group. "We've been reviewing it for a while," Kwong says, and he acknowledged that the release of the next-generation Mac OS could mark a major shift for the platform. However, Kwong said that he had no announcements to make about Mac OS X support in future Microsoft products.