MS upgrades IE, next-generation Windows

Microsoft posts IE update and Windows beta

Microsoft has posted for download from its Web site a minor update to Internet Explorer, and has released an updated beta of the next version of Consumer Windows, code-named Millennium.

Microsoft made available Internet Explorer 5.01, which works with Windows 95, Windows 98 and NT 4.0. The 5.01 release includes a number of bug fixes, minor feature enhancements and security tweaks.

Among the changes in 5.01 are updates to the 56-bit encryption technology; updates to certificate behavior in Outlook Express; and the addition of S/MIME version 3 security support.

On the Windows front, Microsoft released last Wednesday Beta 2 of Millennium -- which is expected to be a fairly minor update to Windows 98 Second Edition due out next year. Microsoft officials said the company made improvements to Millennium Beta 2 in the areas of simplified start up and hardware recognition, digital-photography management and increased Internet connection sharing for home networking.

According to testers at the ActiveWindows Web site, Microsoft is including a beta of IE 5.5 with Beta 2. It also has added technology to allow users to organise their MP3 files, as well as an Auto Update utility, designed to notify users when to download new versions of Microsoft and third-party applications. Microsoft is aiming to deliver in the final Millennium release a Windows utility that will provide technical assistance from Microsoft's hardware and software partners, but that facility isn't part of Beta 2, according to ActiveWindows.

Microsoft is continuing to test Millennium in a closed beta process. Testers should begin receiving Millennium Beta 2 CDs this week.