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Microsoft Unveils Internet Explorer 5 Beta

Microsoft Corp. fired the latest round the browser wars Wednesday, releasing the first public beta version of Internet Explorer 5.

The latest incarnation of IE contains features that allow Web developers to offer site visitors more search and navigation choices.

Internet Explorer Web Accessories are designed to provide seamless access to content and services. The feature allows a Web site to serve content in a separate window that stays up on the desktop even after the user goes on to another site.

Some of the sites that have signed on to use the extensions include Alexa Internet, Bloomberg Financial Markets, the MSN online service and The New York Times. Beta versions of Web Accessories can be seen here.

"Our goal with Internet Explorer 5 is to provide customers with the easiest way to experience all that the Web has to offer," said Yusuf Mehdi, director of Windows marketing at Microsoft. "We are excited to see these popular content providers and portal sites take advantage of Internet Explorer 5 to provide their customers a more complete and seamless Web experience."

Bloomberg Financial Markets will use the extensible explorer bar architecture in IE 5 to serve real-time stock quotes and financial news in a separate pane. The information will appear at the bottom of the screen in IE 5, allowing users to still read news while browsing the rest of the Web.

MSN has also created a customized explorer bar, giving users access to MSN services and information like e-mail, stock quotes and news, directly within their browser window.

Internet Explorer 5 will offer content providers and portal sites other means to customize and enhance their Web sites and services in addition to Accessories, such as:

  • One-click home page customization. Sites will enable users with the option to change their home page in one click by including a standard script on their Web page.
  • Search bar integration. Sites can offer custom searches optimized for their site within the search bar.
  • Web-based mail integration. Using the open application model, users of Web-based mail services, such as Microsoft's Hotmail, can send mail from within the browser by clicking a standard hyperlink in any Web page.
  • Toolbar customization. Developers can create their own custom toolbar button for Internet Explorer 5 offering users access to their Web Accessories or to their site.

The Internet Explorer 5 beta version incorporates IntelliSense technology, which was first introduced in Microsoft Office. IntelliSense extends the auto-complete feature and makes it easier to use IE as an offline browser.

The beta is available at here and also from the Microsoft Windows Update Web site. Information about developer use IE 5 can be found here.