Microsoft prepares IE 5 upgrades

Microsoft Corporation is working on various versions of Internet Explorer (IE) 5.0 that will bring existing Windows and Macintosh users up to the functionality that the company is engineering for Windows 2000. And like Windows 2000 itself, the new versions of IE 5.0 are scheduled for rollout this fall.

First on the list is Internet Explorer 5.0 Service Pack 1 (SP1), a set of corporate-requested hot-fixes and fixes for common customer issues. The SP fixes over thirty known problems with IE 5.0, though none are particularly serious. IE 5.0 SP1 will not upgrade Internet Explorer 5.0 with any new features: Rather, it is designed for administrators that wish to rollout a version of IE 5.0 that fixes some of their main problems and concerns without including any new features or functionality that would require additional training and support.

For new features, Windows users will want to turn to Internet Explorer 5.01, a new version of IE that includes the bug fixes in IE 5.0 SP1 as well as some new features that were originally planned for Windows 2000. So, IE 5.01 will be the version of Internet Explorer that comes with Windows 2000 this fall; indeed, RC1 and later builds of Windows 2000 already contain beta builds of IE 5.01. One major design change in IE 5.01 is the removal of the "open browser window in new process" user interface. This feature was initially offered in IE 4.01 so that a crashing browser window wouldn't take the entire Windows shell down with it (if there was ever a stronger claim for IE/Windows integration that this, I've yet to see it). When you allow browser windows to each open in a new process, a browser crash can't bring down the UI, which is certainly desirable. Well, in IE 5.01, it's mandatory, assuming you've got at least 32 MB RAM. Otherwise, the feature is disabled. But in either case, you can't enable or disable it through Internet Options as you could before.

Also scheduled for a fall release is Internet Explorer 5.0, Macintosh Edition. Mac users will be pleased to discover that the HTML rendering engine in IE 5.0 has been completely rewritten for better performance. And Web developers will be happy to find out that its now more compatible with the Win32 versions of IE 5.0, so that pages will render in a more similar fashion on both platforms. In keeping with Microsoft's tradition of supplying special Mac-only features, IE 5.0 for the Mac will include a number of new features that surpass what's available on the PC. One example is the Auction Manager, which will track and automate online auctions for users automatically. A new search feature, however, appears to be based on the Search Assistant in IE 5.0 for Windows, but the Mac version uses the superior sliding side tab user interface from the Mac version of IE 4.x for this.

Microsoft says it has no plans at all for a Linux version of IE 5.x

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