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Goodbye IE 3.0, hello 4.0

With its 3.0 version browser hot off the grill, Microsoft is back in the kitchen and expects to post a beta release of Internet Explorer 4.0 on the Internet by October, CNET has learned.

With its 3.0 version browser hot off the grill, Microsoft is back in the kitchen and expects to post a beta release of Internet Explorer 4.0 on the Internet by October, a company spokeswoman told CNET today.

Internet Explorer 4.0 is the linchpin of Microsoft's plan to thoroughly blend Web browsing capabilities into its Windows 95 and NT operating systems. The browser will enable users to view documents and folders on their local hard disks as though they were a series of interconnected Web pages. With Internet Explorer 4.0, users will also be able to convert their desktops into a television screen of sorts, where graphics and information such as news headlines and stock feeds are displayed automatically.

Microsoft (MSFT) previously had said it would release a beta version of 4.0 by the end of the year. However, during the past week rumors began circulating on Microsoft's public discussion groups that a beta version of Internet Explorer 4.0, code-named Nashville, would appear as early as September.

A spokeswoman said today that the beta version of the browser won't be ready until sometime in October. For the anxious, the company has posted some IE 4.0 information and screen shots on its site.

Earlier this month, Netscape Communications (NSCP) revealed that it has its own top-secret effort to counter Internet Explorer 4.0. Though the company is cagey about its exact plans, Netscape said it will offer by the end of the year a version of Navigator that allows users to browse their hard disks.

By offering the product on more than 15 platforms instead of just Windows 95 and NT, Netscape hopes it can offer a more compelling solution to users.

Related stories:
Netscape will do battle for desktops
MS browses for new markets
Explorer: the next generation
Microsoft to ship Nashville browser
"Active Desktop" powering up
Gates draws roadmap for intranet