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IE 4 won't activate Mac, Win3.1

Macintosh fans shouldn't expect an Active Desktop anytime soon. Neither should Windows 3.1 users, for that matter.

    When versions of Microsoft's (MSFT) Internet Explorer 4.0 ship for the Macintosh and Windows 3.1 later this fall, they will have some of the goodies IE 4.0 for Windows 95 and NT has--push channels, support for Dynamic HTML, and the Outlook Express mail client--but they won't have the Active Desktop or Web integration, features currently possible only by the integration of Windows and IE 4.0.

    Both the Active Desktop and Web integration give the operating system interface a browser-like feel, with the ability to display Web data and local files in HTML. With IE 4.0 for Windows, for example, the browser can jump from a Web page to a document on the hard drive.

    "It's safe to say you won't see these things for IE 4 for Mac," said Microsoft product manager Kevin Unangst. "We still have a lot of work to do with Apple."

    On the Windows 3.1 side, memory and interface limitations will keep IE 4.0 users from turning their desktops into browsers and vice versa. Explorer 4.0 for Win 3.1 also won't include NetMeeting, Microsoft's videoconferencing client.

    "True Web integration is not something that makes a lot of sense on Win3.1 machines," said IE director of marketing Yusuf Mehdi.

    Mehdi wouldn't estimate when IE for Macintosh would reach feature parity with its Win32 brethren but said parity wasn't necessarily Microsoft's goal. "We don't think you have to have the same desktop look across all operating systems. It's fine if those things at the interface level look different. We believe in optimizing for each OS."

    As for push content, channels built for IE 4.0 will work on both the Windows and Macintosh platforms. Channel creators will not have to develop a separate Mac version of their content.

    IE 4.0 for Windows will ship September 30. The Macintosh and Windows 3.1 versions should follow 30 to 60 days later.