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Explorer ventures into Unix territory

The software giant will offer a Unix version of its Web browser by year's end.

Microsoft announced today that it will offer a Unix version of its Web browser by the end of the year that matches the features of Internet Explorer 3.0 for Windows 95 and Windows NT.

Although the company has offered a Mac version of its Web browser for months, it has been slower to take to Unix. Now the company appears to be going full steam ahead with its Unix plans, hoping to match the better cross-platform support of Netscape Communications' Navigator.

Microsoft is also anxious to deliver an equal peer to its Windows 95 browser by offering the same functionality on Unix and Mac, including support for Java and ActiveX controls. The company is tapping vendors Metrowerks and Macromedia for help on making ActiveX work on the Mac and Bristol Technology for Unix. Once the basic framework is in place, Microsoft will provide development toolkits for creating ActiveX controls on Solaris and other brands of Unix.

What is less clear is whether Microsoft will produce a comparable browser for its older Windows 3.1 operating system: a new version of Internet Explorer for Windows 3.1 due in August will support frames and animated GIF, but not Java or ActiveX.

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