On a page posted to its Web site, the company says it has delayed the beta version of its Unix browser until the end of this year because quality wasn't up to snuff. But to keep pace with its development on platforms like Windows 95 and Macintosh, Microsoft will skip to 4.0.
"After taking stock of the work that had been completed to date with the UNIX version of Internet Explorer 3.0, and based on customer feedback, we determined that the existing code would not pass our quality standards for performance, functionality, and ease of use," a statement on Microsoft's site reads. "Rather than release a version that did not live up to Microsoft or customer expectations, we decided to refocus our efforts and go back to the drawing board."
Microsoft said it would create a Unix Web browser nearly a year ago as part of an effort to compete more aggressively with Netscape Communications. Netscape has long touted its cross-platform support, while criticizing Microsoft's focus on its own premiere operating systems--Windows 95 and NT.
While Microsoft has produced a critically acclaimed version of Explorer for Macintosh, its Unix browser was a no-show. Last year, the company promised to put out a beta version by the end of 1996; it recently revised that date to the fourth quarter of 1997.
On its site, Microsoft says that the Explorer 4.0 for Unix will contain the core features of the Windows 95 and NT versions of the browser, including support for Dynamic HTML, Webcasting or "push" capabilities, Java, and HTML 3.2. Initially, the 4.0 browser will not come with "true Web integration," Microsoft's name for the blending of Web browsing and hunting for local files available on Windows 95 and NT.
Microsoft plans to ship Explorer 4.0 for Unix in the first quarter of 1998. The "platform preview" release of Explorer 4.0 for Windows 95 and NT is currently in testing, and the final will ship sometime in the summer.