Microsoft is also releasing the preview version of IE 4.0 for Windows 3.1, a platform that still accounts for a large percentage of Windows users.
According to Dave Fester, group project manager for Internet Explorer, Microsoft decided to release a Unix version of the browser after many corporate customers waited to adopt it as a company-wide standard.
"It was the No. 1 reason why corporations have stalled standardization on IE 4.0," Fester said.
Starting today, IE 4.0 Preview 1 will be available for download to users of both Windows 3.1 and Sun Solaris Unix. Versions for HP-UX, IBM AIX, and SGI IRIX are expected to appear in roughly three-month intervals. IE 4.0 for Mac is currently in beta, while the Windows 95/NT version has been out since September 30. Microsoft expects to ship IE 4.0 for Windows 3.1 by the end of the year and by Q1 for Unix.
Fester also pointed out that the newest version of IE for Windows 3.1 has been reconfigured to run smoothly on existing software and hardware, and on less than 8 megabytes of memory. But he warned that 3.1 users shouldn't expect the same performance as on Win32 platforms.
"We take the time to build the software so it works on the 16-bit operating system," Fester said. "There are some obvious limitations. Will it run as fast? No it won't."
In related news, Microsoft also today shipped the final version of its NetMeeting version 2.1 Internet conferencing software.
The new release adds support for the company's DirectSound API (application programming interface), a part of the DirectX APIs. DirectSound can reduce delays in audio transmission, said Microsoft.
NetMeeting 2.1 is available for free downloading from Microsoft's Web site.