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FrontPage 98 going beta

Microsoft will give Web designers next week a crack at FrontPage 98, the latest edition of its Web site authoring and management tool.

Microsoft (MSFT) will give Web designers next week a beta version of FrontPage 98, the latest edition of its Web site authoring and management tool.

The new edition will add support for cascading style sheets, dynamic HTML, and Microsoft's channel definition format, which is used to turn Web sites into "push" channels. It will bundle Internet Explorer 3.0 and an upgraded image composer tool, a company spokeswoman said.

FrontPage 98 will feature a navigation view, in which HTML pages and navigation bars are automatically generated as the user plans the site map on a "whiteboard." Other views facilitate weeding out expired links and obsolete or duplicate files.

A new graphics feature lets users automatically apply coordinated graphics throughout the site according to more than 50 predetermined "themes." Other graphics additions will include a gif animator, new image-editing tools, and a resample feature to reduce the size of image files. FrontPage comes with tools that ease the drawing and editing of tables.

The beta of FrontPage 98 will be available Monday at the Microsoft Web site. The final version will be ready in October.

Retail price will be $149, with a $40 rebate for registered users of Microsoft Office. Users of FrontPage 1.1 and 97 can upgrade to 98 for $55.