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Microsoft developers' conference in works

Microsoft will host a conference for Web developers at the end of October, and hopes to lure attendees with the release of Internet Studio, an upgrade of Visual Basic, and maybe even the first beta version of Explorer 4.0.

Not to be outdone by Netscape Communications, Microsoft (MSFT) will host its own conference for Web site developers at the end of October, and hopes to lure attendees with software including Internet Studio, an upgrade of Visual Basic, and maybe even the first beta version of Explorer 4.0.

The release of the beta may be delayed until another Microsoft event, specifically the Professional Developer Conference in early November, a company spokeswoman said.

Whether it actually releases a beta of its next browser upgrade or not, Microsoft definitely plans to showcase Explorer 4.0 at its SiteBuilder conference that starts on October 28 in San Jose, California. The company will focus on "ActiveThemes," a feature of Explorer 4.0 that allows publishers to automatically "push" or broadcast content to users' desktops rather forcing them to visit a Web site.

Microsoft will also take the wraps off its Internet Studio, a newly revamped tool for creating server-side applications for Web sites. Internet Studio grew out of a failed development tool for Microsoft Network, code-named Blackbird, but the new product bears almost no resemblance to its predecessor, according to sources.

Internet Studio is intended for building Windows NT applications by helping developers piece together ActiveX controls using a scripting framework code-named Denali. A beta version of Denali and an alpha version of Internet Studio will be given to developers at the show, said Tanya Van Dam, group product manager for server products at Microsoft.

"Denali makes building Web applications very simple," said Van Dam. "We're making the barrier to entry for server-side applications much lower."

The show's attendees will also receive a beta version of Visual Basic 5.0 Control Creation Edition, a new edition of Microsoft's visual development that supports creation of ActiveX Controls. Microsoft will also hand out copies of Visual J++ and several products in its Normandy Internet server family.

Paul Maritz, Microsoft's group vice president of the platforms group, and Bill Gates, chairman and CEO, will be delivering keynote speeches at the conference.

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