With FrontPage 97 for Windows 95, Microsoft hopes to keep its tool competitive in an increasingly competitive market that seems to get heavy new players, such as NetObjects, every other month. So far, the company has managed to sell a respectable 150,000 copies of FrontPage in stores, while users have downloaded 500,000 copies of the application from the Net.
The new beta version comes with a "bonus pack" that includes Microsoft Image Composer, an image editing tool and graphics collection, and Personal Web Server, a Windows 95 server for testing Web pages. By bundling the products with its design tool, Microsoft says that it's aiming to build a soup-to-nuts suite of Internet design products.
"With Front Page 97, we're introducing the idea of a complete Web suite," said Bob Crissman, product manager for FrontPage at Microsoft. "FrontPage 97 is for creating and managing entire Web sites."
FrontPage 97 will also support new HTML tags such as the marquee tag; True Type fonts; improved drag and drop capabilities; global site find-and-replace and spell checking; and nested tables. The product does not support one new HTML innovation, though: style sheets.
The beta version of FrontPage 97 will be available for a free trial download. Microsoft plans to charge users $149 for the final version of the product, though Microsoft Office users will receive a $40 rebate. FrontPage 1.1 users can upgrade to the new product for $54.95.
FrontPage 97 can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site.
A Macintosh version of FrontPage is under development and should be available for download by the end of the year, Crissman said.