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MS betas support ECMA Script

Microsoft may not have been the first to introduce a scripting language for the Internet, but it says it's the first to support a standard Internet scripting language.

Microsoft (MSFT) may not have been the first to introduce a scripting language for the Internet, but it says it's the first to support a standard Internet scripting language.

Today, the software giant said it has posted two beta versions of products on its Web site--Internet Information Server 4.0 and Script Debugger--that are the first to be based on ECMA Script, an Internet scripting language largely based on Netscape Communications' (NSCP) JavaScript technology. Last week, ECMA, an international standards body, officially approved ECMA Script as an Internet standard last week at a meeting in the United Kingdom.

To developers, a single standard for Internet scripting could avert incompatibilities between the two leading Web browsers. But Microsoft's announcement also points to the increasing role that standards support is playing in the marketing messages of both companies.

In recent months, such rhetoric has reached a fever pitch as both companies attempt to position themselves as purveyors of Net standards. Microsoft has been particularly aggressive in recent months, touting its work with the World Wide Web Consortium to establish channel definition format (CDF) and Dynamic HTML as standards. Earlier this month, Microsoft and Netscape achieve a rare concordance on an Internet privacy technology called the open profiling standard (OPS).

"Microsoft wants to be the good Net standards citizen because they were accused of being proprietary and closed for so long," said Clay Ryder, an analyst with market research firm Zona Research. "For Netscape, defining standards is very important because they are supposed to be the Internet brand."

Today, Microsoft managers were eager to emphasize that its clone of the JavaScript language, known as JScript, contributed as much to the final specification for ECMA Script as did Netscape's technology. John Roskill, group product manager at Microsoft, also said that Microsoft will release a beta version of its Internet Explorer 4.0 browser before Netscape can support ECMA Script in its browser.

"Netscape's current version of JavaScript in Communicator is not ECMA-compliant," Roskill added.

Netscape acknowledged that it was not able to support ECMA Script in its Communicator and SuiteSpot 3.0 products, both of which shipped earlier this month. Rick Fleischman, group product manager for tools at Netscape, said that the next versions of both products would support ECMA Script, but he would not offer a date for the release of those products.

"I'm excited that Microsoft has announced very aggressive support for this new standard," Fleischman noted. "They are at a point in their product cycle where they are actively introducing new product features."