Microsoft Releases Explorer 6.0

By Allison Linn, Staff

August 28, 2001

SEATTLE — The latest version of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer browser, made available for free download Monday, is drawing protests because it doesn't support two rival products commonly used on Web sites.

Internet Explorer 6.0 will not automatically support the embattled Java programming language or Netscape-style ``plug-ins,'' though users and developers will have tools to make the browser compatible with those products.

Microsoft decided to dropped support for the plug-ins — additional software that lets users play music, watch videos or perform other tasks — in favor of Microsoft technology called ActiveX. Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan said the move was for increased security.

The change means that certain programs, most notably QuickTime, will not work unless the Web site developer changes the code to meet Microsoft's requirements.

Rob Enderle, who follows Microsoft for Giga Information Systems, said the company probably decided to make the change because it was becoming more costly to support Netscape-style plug-ins.

Although some users and developers complained that they weren't given enough lead time to update their systems, Enderle said he doubted the move would have a major effect on users.

He also doubted the company was trying to gain an edge over QuickTime, a music and video player made by Apple that competes with Microsoft's Windows Media Player.

``If it was just a QuickTime move they would have done it in such a way that QuickTime stayed broken,'' Enderle said.

A legal settlement with Java creator Sun Microsystems earlier this year kept Microsoft from including new versions of the Java support in its system, and the software giant responded by dropping Java completely.

Now, users will have to download a patch to see Web pages made using Java, unless they are upgrading from a previous version of Internet Explorer.

Sun, angered over the change, has been trying to rally support among users to force Microsoft to reinstate some sort of Java support in its system.

The free version of Internet Explorer 6.0 is virtually the same browser users will find in Windows XP, the forthcoming version of the company's desktop operating system, Cullinan said.

The company is touting such user-friendly features as the ability to easily download and print pictures off Web pages and play music and videos. The browser also will have added security.

The final code for Windows XP, due out in October, was shipped to manufacturers Friday for mass production. That move prompted the company to provide Internet Explorer 6.0 for download, the company said in a statement.

Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.