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W3C posts threading proposal

Three email software makers are teaming up in an attempt to give Web-based email a new look.

With email use thriving among business and personal Net users, three email software makers are teaming up in an attempt to give Web-based email a new look.

The World Wide Web Consortium has posted for public review a proposal by Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Lotus Development to add threading to HTML-based email applications, the companies said today.

The proposal, submitted to the W3C for consideration as a standard, outlines the goals and applications of HTML threading, a technology that the companies say "enables user agents to easily identify the source message and author for arbitrary runs of text and additionally defines conventions to apply a distinct visual style to text written by various authors."

In other words, it would allow for users to follow discussions that take place via email more easily and identify who is saying what, according to the proposal.

"This W3C submission provides a means of attributing text in a single text-HTML document to different messages and authors," Nick Shelness, fellow and chief messaging architect at Lotus, said in a statement. "With these developments, Internet message formats are gaining capabilities previously available only in proprietary message formats."

The HTML threading proposal builds on industry standards such as HTML 4.0, as well as cascading style sheets and extensible markup language (XML) to let developers create features that currently are not possible with any single Web technology, the companies said.