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MS posts the real Explorer 3.0 beta

Microsoft posted a new beta of Internet Explorer with a hotly anticipated just-in-time compiler that is expected to dramatically speed up Java applets.

Microsoft today posted a new beta version of Internet Explorer 3.0 that is expected to narrow the gap between the Web browser and Netscape Communications' Navigator by adding an integrated just-in-time compiler and support for Netscape plug-ins.

Since last year, Microsoft has been working furiously to match Navigator feature for feature, but support for Java and plug-ins--two key Navigator capabilities--eluded the first beta of Explorer 3.0 released in May. The company later posted a Java engine add-on that could let Explorer run Java applets, but the real browser speed tests have had to wait for the integrated JIT compiler, a technology that reads applets into native machine code upon downloading.

Like Navigator, the new beta of Internet Explorer 3.0 also includes integrated support for virtual reality modeling language (VRML) and a variety of audio-video file formats, including WAV, AVI, QuickTime, MPEG, AU, and AIFF.

The software is available for downloading from the company's FTP site. A complete description of the beta's new features can be found on the Microsoft Web site.

Microsoft is already hard at work on the next major release of Internet Explorer, code-named Nashville, which turn Windows 95 and NT desktops into Web pages complete with hyperlinks, ActiveX controls, and Java applets. Nashville is in alpha testing, with a beta expected to be posted by the end of August, a company spokeswoman said.

Today, Microsoft also posted new versions of its NetMeeting conferencing and Internet Mail and News applications, both of which offer improved performance, according to the company.

Related stories:
Add-on gives Java to Explorer 3.0
MS prepares Unix version of Explorer
Explorer 3.0 beta posted sans Java
MS ships Explorer 2.0 for Macintosh
Explorer catching up with news, mail
Battle of the bragging rights
Comparative review of Navigator and Explorer
All versions of Explorer at SHAREWARE.COM