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Sneak preview of IE 4.0 in March

Microsoft plans a March "preview release" of its new browser to developers. Dynamic HTML is a key part.

Microsoft (MSFT) is inching closer to releasing Internet Explorer 4.0.

By mid-March, the company plans to release an early version of the Web browser for developers, Microsoft group product manager Yusuf Mehdi said today. As part of this "platform preview release," the browser will come with dynamic HTML, a key feature not included in previous versions that will allow publishers to script more interactive Web pages.

Although the preview release of the browser will likely be posted to the Internet, users will have to wait a bit longer to get a more mature "public beta" of Explorer 4.0. That version could show up as early as the end of March, though Mehdi declined to give a specific date.

Internet Explorer 4.0 is a radical overhaul of Microsoft's Web browser. It will combine what are now two distinct programs--Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer--so that a user can seamlessly browse the Web or his own hard drive as if it were a Web site. The browser will be able to receive "pushed" Internet broadcasts and dynamic HTML.

Mehdi said Microsoft will post a preview release of Explorer to help developers get started with writing dynamic HTML pages. Microsoft had previously delayed the release of IE 4 because it decided to add dynamic HTML during the final stages of development. The company also recently began delivering specifications to Web publishers for creating Internet broadcasts or "channels," sources said.