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IE 4.5 for the Mac due at MacWorld

Microsoft will release a new version of its Web browser for the Macintosh platform at next month's trade show in San Francisco.

    Microsoft will release a new version of its Internet Explorer Web browser for the Macintosh platform at January's Macworld in San Francisco.

    Despite now-public disagreements with Apple over the market for multimedia software, plans to upgrade software for the Mac haven't been put on hold, say Microsoft executives.

    In fact, Microsoft is claiming numerous performance and feature enhancements for IE 4.5. Further enhancements to the browser are in the works for mid-1999.

    Among the upcoming features touted by Microsoft:

    • Internet Explorer 4.5 will support Sherlock, Apple's software technology in Macintosh OS 8.5 that allows users to locate Web content more easily. A search button on the browser's main toolbar will allow users to access Sherlock's functions.

    • Page Holder, which will let users to view the content of page links while still viewing the original page in a separate "pane. This is expected to lead to faster browsing because users will not have to reload previous pages.

    • I.E. 4.5 will automatically adjust the content of a Web page to fit onto a sheet of paper without clipping text or images. Web pages are often too big to fit on standard piece of paper. I.E. will essentially tweak the electronic page layout so that it fits better and can be printed more easily.

    • Like Office98, Explorer will automatically "repair" itself if a user mistakenly removes a portion of software code.

    In addition to being easier to install than previous versions, the program will load twice as fast and can display Web pages stored in memory up to 30 percent as fast as previous versions, said Jodi Ropert, group product manager for Microsoft's Mac business unit.

    The company has also done extensive testing, Ropert said, to ensure the browser will be more reliable than previous versions, a common peeve among users of both Explorer and Netscape's Navigator and Communicator Web browser software.

    The shipment of the new version of Explorer for the Mac won't be affected by Microsoft's legal battle with Sun. Late Friday, Microsoft asked the U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, to extend the time it has to comply with a preliminary injunction requiring it to modify software that includes Java. Version 4.5 of Explorer already has been modified to use Apple's "Java virtual machine," (JVM) a piece of software used to interpret Java commands, instead of its own JVM, a spokesperson said.

    In part because of the new Microsoft browser, January's MacWorld is shaping up to be a fairly important show.

    The San Francisco event will feature the first all-new Power Macintosh desktop systems since November of 1997. Code-named Yosemite, new iMac-like systems with a curvier case design and faster processors will replace the popular G3 models.

    MacWorld begins on January 4.