SAN FRANCISCO--Microsoft, eager to show its support for a
competitor in the market for operating systems, today released a new
version of its Internet Explorer Web browser and took the wraps off a new
Web site catering to the needs of Mac users.
claiming it has made numerous performance and feature enhancements for IE 4.5, some of which are being made available first on the Mac.
Further enhancements to the browser that will add more support for new
Internet standards are in the works for mid-1999. The freshly minted
Web site, called Mactopia, is also being offered by Microsoft executives to show that the company is taking the Mac market seriously and devoting resources to the platform.
"It's note enough just to port Windows functionality to the Mac. Throughout
all of our [Mac] products, you will see innovations only available
on the Mac platform," said Jodi Ropert, group product manager for
Microsoft's Mac business unit. In the past, the company has been chastised
by Mac users for simply reconstituting its Windows programs for use on the
Mac, instead of tweaking them for better performance and taking advantage
of Mac-specific technologies.
Among the upcoming features touted by Microsoft:
- Internet Explorer 4.5 will support Sherlock, Apple's software technology in Macintosh
OS 8.5 that allows users to locate Web content more easily. A search button
on the browser's main toolbar will allow users to access Sherlock's
- Page Holder, which will let users view the content of page links
while still viewing the original page in a separate "pane." This is
expected to lead to faster browsing, because users will not have to reload
- IE 4.5 will automatically adjust the content of a Web page to fit
onto a sheet of paper without clipping text or images. Web pages are often
too big to fit on a standard piece of paper. IE will essentially tweak the
electronic page layout so that it fits better and can be printed more
- Like Office98, Explorer will automatically "repair" itself if a user
mistakenly removes a portion of software code.
In addition to being easier to install than previous versions, the program
will load twice as fast and can display Web pages stored in memory up to 30
percent as fast as previous versions, said Ropert.
The company has also done extensive testing, Ropert said, to ensure the
browser will be more reliable than previous versions, a common peeve among
users of both Explorer and Netscape's
Navigator and Communicator Web browser software.
Apple, Microsoft put animosity aside to make money
The new software and Web site serve to highlight the complicated, nearly
symbiotic relationship between Microsoft and Apple.
The companies' private wrangling over multimedia software became public
last year in testimony given by Apple executives in the Department of
Justice's (DOJ) antitrust case against
Apple executives accused
Microsoft of threatening to stop development of Microsoft Office for the
Mac if Apple didn't stop development of software that was in a key market
Microsoft was planning to target.
"To the extent that Apple and Microsoft can work together to bring great
products to market for the customer--that's what we're in business for,"
said Ben Waldman, general manager of the Macintosh business unit at
Microsoft, when asked about the complicated relationship between the two
companies. Waldman noted that in Japan, sales of the Mac version of the
Microsoft Office 98 program accounted for 20 percent of revenues in the
month of August 1998.
The new version of Explorer for the Mac is available for download at
Microsoft's site. Attendees of the Macworld keynote speech today are
also to receive free copies of the software.