The first public beta of Internet Explorer 4.0 is on track for December, even though Microsoft (MSFT) is adding last-minute features to the highly anticipated Web browser, company officials said today.
According to a message posted to a private newsgroup for Explorer 4.0 alpha testers, Microsoft said that it is doing "considerable reconstructing" on the browser, including adding features dubbed Dynamic HTML, WebCheck, and WebBars. The message also says that the company will issue a late alpha release to private testers in December.
Today, a company spokeswoman denied that the date for the public beta of Explorer 4.0 was slipping. She said Microsoft still expects to post a public beta version to the Net by the end of the year.
Netscape officials said today that it is on target to deliver a private beta version of the Communicator client, which includes Navigator 4.0, to a select group of corporate customers later this month. Like Microsoft, the company plans on posting a public beta by year's end.
Both companies have, however, missed beta release dates set earlier this year for the 4.0 versions of their browsers.
The two software firms have already publicly described the feature sets for their version 4.0 releases in some detail, but both are still working on design revisions and will probably add more features before the public beta is ready.
In the message to alpha testers, Microsoft described two new features in detail related to Active Themes, a central part of Explorer 4.0 that allows Web site publishers to broadcast pages to a user's screen. The message said that the company will make this work better by adding WebBars--HTML frames that allow users to automatically receive Web pages the way a television tunes into channels. The frames can be docked to the edge of the screen or viewed as a floating window, the message said.
The browser will also come with WebCheck, which monitors selected Web sites and Active Theme channels to notify users when new information has been broadcast.
The message also reiterated that Microsoft will add Dynamic HTML, a technology for programming HTML, to Explorer 4.0.