The Mac software will have some of the features of its Windows counterpart, such as the ability to receive push channels, but it won't have the Windows-specific Active Desktop, which turns the user's desktop into HTML-ready wallpaper.
Microsoft is in the midst of an antitrust battle with the Justice Department, which alleges that Redmond's browser strategy violates antitrust law, a charge that Microsoft denies. The lawsuit pertains only to the Windows version of IE, but the company's critics say that the existence of a Macintosh version underscores the DOJ's contention that IE is a separate product and not a part of Windows. Microsoft contends that IE for Macintosh shouldn't be considered in the same light as IE for Windows.
Apple Computer got a financial boost last summer when Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates announced a $150 million investment in the computer maker and a five-year commitment to developing Macintosh software. In exchange, Internet Explorer became the default browser on the Macintosh platform.
IE 4 for Mac will come with a mail and news reader client, as well as support for the Java Development Kit 1.1.3, cascading style sheets, and the AutoComplete feature that finishes URLs as users type them in.
The beta version of IE 4 for Mac requires a minimum of 4 MB of memory; no specifications have been released yet for the final version. A company spokesman said more features will be announced Tuesday morning.