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Microsoft® Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX
"The Web the Way You Want It"
June 1998

This document is a guide for evaluating the final release of Microsoft® Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX operating systems including SPARCstation2, SPARC5, SPARC 10, SPARC 20, UltraSPARC, mono and color XTerminals, and for the beta release of Microsoft® Internet Explorer 4.0 for HP-UX. The document outlines key new features and the innovative approach Microsoft Corp. took in developing this leading-edge Web-browsing product.

Design Goals for Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0

In recent months Microsoft has moved forward rapidly with development of Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX, continuing to deliver on its commitment to full cross-platform capability. In designing Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX, Microsoft's primary goal was to deliver the easiest-to-use best-of-breed browser in a manner consistent with current UNIX application paradigms and optimized for the UNIX platform. Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX is Microsoft's effort to deliver an award-winning, premier Internet browser to UNIX users based on four key design philosophies:

  • Providing the best browser technology through ease of use, performance and security
  • Complete compatibility with UNIX hardware and software
  • Consistent content that can be viewed across platforms
  • Ease of deployment and administration

Best Browser Technology

Customers have told Microsoft that they are overwhelmed by the amount of information on the Internet and have asked for an easier tool to help them find the information they need. They are also looking for customization and personalization features in a Web browser that can lead to a more enjoyable, productive Web experience. To meet these customer requirements, Microsoft has delivered what it believes to be the best Web-browsing tool available with Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX, providing UNIX users with a superior Web experience optimized for their platform.

Fast browser. Internet Explorer 4.0 has implemented new technologies that improve the browser's ability to access Web sites more quickly. This makes the Web-browsing experience better for users by eliminating frustrating wait times and maximizing their connect time, so they can focus on the information they want. The rendering engine provided in Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX was derived from the same code base as the HTML rendering engine for the 32-bit Windows® operating system. This provides developers the reassurance that HTML code developed for the Windows platform will render the same in the UNIX browser.

Search, History and Favorites Explorer bars. Explorer bars in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 are implemented in split-screen browser windows that are accessible while users browse the Web. They dramatically improve users' ability to find relevant information during Web searches, and they make it easier to identify what Web sites they have visited.


  • Search. When users initiate a search by selecting the Search button on the toolbar, the results are displayed in the expandable Search bar, allowing users to move easily between the search results page and a targeted URL in the same browser view.
  • History. Selecting the History button from the toolbar displays a history pane in the browser window that categorizes users' browsing history by day, week and site. This makes it much easier to find sites visited previously and provides an easy way to "surf" the browser cache when offline.
  • Favorites bar. Now favorite sites can be easily accessed and organized in a Favorites pane in the browser window, as well as from the Favorites menu.
  • Customizable toolbars. Freeing up screen real estate to view more of a Web page is even easier. The toolbars are movable to provide customization consistency with the existing toolbars in Microsoft Internet Explorer.
  • Drag-and-drop Quick Links and Favorites. Users have drag-and-drop capabilities for optimized access to their favorite sites on the Web. Drag and drop enables users to easily navigate to Web sites and organize their often-visited sites.
  • AutoComplete in Address Bar. Delivers automatic completion of previously typed URLs in the Address Bar.
  • Internet Options dialog box settings. Easy-to-access tabs include General (including history and cache settings), Security (including Security Zones settings), Connections (for setting ISP and proxy settings) and Advanced (for cookies and toolbar and other settings).
  • Status notifications. Users are often confused about what task the browser is performing (e.g., downloading a page, still accessing the server), so Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 provides improved user feedback. For example, an improved Status Bar indicates page download in its entirety, instead of by individual objects on a page.
  • History menus on Back and Forward buttons. Drop-down menus on the Back and Forward buttons now give easy access to browsing history in the current session, without the need for right-clicking.

Security Features

Microsoft believes that Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX is the most secure browser for the UNIX platform on the Internet today. Microsoft Internet Explorer provides an extensible architecture that supports the best and broadest range of security enhancements of any browser, including the innovative Security Zones. Many of these enhancements build on the secure features introduced in Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 and continue to make Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX the most advanced way to safely and securely browse the Internet.


  • Security Zones. Security Zones provide an innovative approach to secure browsing with Internet Explorer 4.0 by dividing the Internet and intranets into trusted (safe) and untrusted (unsafe) areas. Zones enable greater manageability by allowing users and administrators to designate that specific Internet or intranet sites belong to these "safe" or "unsafe" areas. Once zones of trust have been established, browser security defaults can be set for each zone, allowing or disallowing content such as scripting or file download. This reduces the number of security-related dialog boxes that confront a user - alleviating "authentication fatigue" - because security decisions can be predetermined based on the zone settings the administrator implements.
  • Zone-based password protection. Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 prompts users before transmitting their user name or password to sites that haven't been designated as trusted and lets users choose not to be prompted before that information is sent to sites that are trusted.
  • SSL 2.0, SSL 3.0 and PCT 1.0. These basic protocols provide secure communications over a TCP/IP connection.

Complete Compatibility With Existing UNIX Hardware and Software

Support for multiple platforms is a key element in any organization's decision to deploy an Internet client. However, this decision involves more than just porting a browser that runs on as many platforms as possible. Microsoft specifically focused its resources to deliver a high-quality browser that supports the primary UNIX installed systems including Solaris and HP-UX. Users can remotely use Internet Explorer for UNIX from other UNIX operating systems such as Linux, Silicon Graphics IRIX and IBM AIX.

Internet Explorer is the only browser today that includes support for existing UNIX applications, such as Emacs, Elm, RN and VI, to name a few, leveraging what users are accustomed to using on UNIX. Users or administrators can easily configure Internet Explorer to e-mail links or invoke their favorite e-mail client or news reader right from the browser, as well as view the source code for HTML files using common UNIX text editors, such as the ever-popular VI. Internet Explorer shortcut keys are compatible with Emacs keys, enabling Emacs users to seamlessly use their favorite shortcut keys with Internet Explorer as well.

Another great feature of Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX is the ability to customize existing applications or MIME types right from the browser. This functionality allows users to configure existing applications to handle different content on the Internet, such as Adobe Acrobat file formats. For example, a user can click on a link to an Acrobat file and Internet Explorer will automatically bring up the Acrobat Reader.

Microsoft has also implemented the user interface to be consistent with what users expect on the UNIX platform. Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX takes advantage of UNIX interface standards and was developed using the Motif look. This provides users with the power and flexibility of Windows, implemented in manner that UNIX users are immediately comfortable with.

Consistent Content and Web Applications That Can Be Viewed Across Platforms

Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 continues to provide the broadest and best support of Internet content standards consistently across platforms. Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX shares the same rendering engine as its 16- and 32-bit Windows-based counterparts, providing users with the ability to view common content across Windows platforms and the Macintosh. Internet Explorer 4.0 fully supports the comprehensive Dynamic HTML draft proposals to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), so users have a faster, more functional way to view and interact with Web sites across Microsoft browsers for various platforms.

The exciting Dynamic HTML technology, based on existing and proposed W3C HTML standards, enables the creation of totally interactive multimedia applications and allows better Web page manipulation and control via HTML and scripting. The Dynamic HTML implementation in Internet Explorer 4.0 is 100 percent compliant with the drafts proposed to the W3C. This allows content authors to create rich Web page experiences for users that dynamically change the page display or content entirely on the client machine at run time, without requiring round trips to the server.

Dynamic HTML and Content Features

  • Document Object Model.The W3C-proposed Document Object Model (DOM) supported in Internet Explorer 4.0 allows every element of a Web page to be exposed for scripting, allowing content providers to create dazzling Web pages that respond to user interaction such as mouseovers and mouse clicks.
  • Cascading Style Sheets positioning. Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 provides full support for W3C Cascading Style Sheets (CSS1) positioning, allowing Web page designers to place any HTML object anywhere on a page.
  • Dynamic styles. HTML authors can dynamically change the style (element attributes or Cascading Style Sheets styles) of every HTML element in a document.
  • Dynamic content. Web page authors can dynamically change the content of an HTML page based on mouse events or other user interaction.
  • Active Script. With its rich support for the flexible Active Script engine, Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 provides fast, comprehensive, language-independent script-handling capability using the Visual Basic® development system Scripting Edition, ECMA-262 Script (the recently approved JavaScript standard based on JavaScript 1.1), or the scripting language of the developer's choice. Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 is 100 percent ECMA-262 compliant, assuring webmasters that Internet Explorer 4.0 users will be able to view as designed Web pages and applications that were created using the ECMA scripting standard.
  • Scriptlets. Scriptlets represent a new dimension in cross-platform Web application design using Dynamic HTML. A scriptlet is a Web page, authored with Dynamic HTML and script, that can be used by Web developers as an extensible, reusable component in other Web applications. Scriptlets provide content providers the convenience of object-based reusability and enable authors to employ the scripting languages they already know how to use (such as ECMA Script on the Macintosh).
  • Data binding. Through two new features - the Tabular Data Control and Active Data Object, Internet Explorer for UNIX enables display and manipulation of data from a SQL database on Web pages.
  • NetShowTM. The server enables live or stored streaming of Advanced (formerly Active) Streaming Format (ASF) content over the Internet or a corporate intranet. ASF content can be audio, illustrated audio (audio synchronized with images), video and even streaming applications.

Webcasting via Active Channels

Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 webcasting breaks new ground by supporting an open, standards-based approach to optimizing push delivery of Web content and software via the channel definition format (CDF). CDF is a standard proposed by the W3C enabling users to see Active ChannelTM content directly from the browser. With the delivery of Internet Explorer for UNIX, corporations can now deploy enterprise channels consistently to all platforms where Internet Explorer is supported: Windows 95, Windows NT® 4.0, Windows 3.1, Windows NT 3.51, Macintosh and UNIX.

Feedback from corporate customers told Microsoft not to prepopulate the Channel Bar with content unrelated to business. The Channel Bar in Internet Explorer 4.0 for UNIX was designed to allow customers the flexibility to easily prepopulate the channel content of their choice. In addition, with the Internet Explorer Administration Kit, corporations can easily deliver prepopulated channel content to meet their enterprise needs.

  • Managed webcasting support. Internet Explorer goes beyond traditional Web site crawlers - which bring unnecessary content to the user's computer - by using CDF to define the selections of the Web site that a user needs.
  • User interface for channels. Corporations building intranet channels will have the familiar channel interface seen in Internet Explorer's counterparts, offering a consistent interface and ensuring that training across multiple platforms and the enterprise is minimized.
  • Channel Bar. The Channel Bar provides one-click access to Active Channel content delivered with channel definition format. Users can add channels to this bar for easy access to content right in the browser view. The Channel Bar is prepopulated with sample channels and CDF files.

Ease of Deployment and Management

Internet Explorer for UNIX now enables administrators to seamlessly deploy, customize and manage the browser on UNIX systems through support for the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK). System administrators can now customize the browser through the Internet Explorer Administration Kit console on Windows NT or Windows 95 and generate custom packages for easy distribution to UNIX systems. (Note: IEAK support for HP-UX will be available with the final release.)

Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 and Netscape Communicator 4 Comparison

Ease of Use and Personalization

Internet Explorer 4.0 UNIX

Netscape 4.0 UNIX

AutoComplete Address Bar

Yes

No

Integrated Channel, Search, History, Favorite bars

Yes

No

Simple download progress indicator

Yes

No

Offline browsing

Yes

No

Navigation history with Back and Next buttons

Yes

Yes

Extensive keyboard-based navigation

Yes

Limited

Reorder and Combine toolbars

Yes

Reorder

Integrate the mail, news, calendar and/or conference clients of choice

Yes

No

Extend operating system interface customizations to browser

Yes

No

Dynamic HTML (per W3C)

Internet Explorer 4.0 UNIX

Netscape 4.0 UNIX

Document Object Model

Yes

No

Dynamic HTML styles and content

Yes

No

Dynamic Positioning

Yes

No1

Data binding and awareness (ADO, TDC)

Yes

No


1Communicator 4.0 uses nonstandard Layers to compete with Dynamic Positioning. Layers was rejected by the W3C.

HTML Compatibility

Internet Explorer 4.0 UNIX

Netscape 4.0 UNIX

HTML 3.2 support

Yes

Yes

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS1)

Yes

Partial

Cascading Style Sheets Positioning (CSSP)

Yes

Partial

HTML 4.0 Working Draft support

Yes

No

Enhanced Frames (borderless, inline, floating)

Yes

Borderless

File upload

Yes

Yes

Component Architecture

Internet Explorer 4.0 UNIX

Netscape 4.0 UNIX

COM and DCOM support

Yes

No

CORBA and IIOP support

No

Yes

HTML/browsing engine as a component

Yes

No

Java

Internet Explorer 4.0 HP-UX

Netscape 4.0 UNIX

Improved Abstract Windowing Toolkit (AWT)

Yes

No

Advanced Class Libraries

Yes (AFC)

No

Ease of Use and Personalization

Internet Explorer 4.0 HP-UX

Netscape 4.0 UNIX

JDK 1.1 cross-platform support

Yes

Yes

JavaBeans support

Yes

No

Dynamic HTML object model exposed to Java

Yes

No

Scripting

Internet Explorer 4.0 UNIX

Netscape 4.0 UNIX

ECMA-262 compliant scripting (JavaScript standard)

Yes

No2

Support for Visual Basic Scripting Edition

Yes

No

Scriptlets ­ reusable script components

Yes

No


2Communicator 4.0 uses nonstandard JavaScript 1.2.

Security and Privacy

Internet Explorer 4.0 UNIX

Netscape 4.0 UNIX

Security Zones

Yes

No

X.509 v3 certificate support and PKCS 7

Yes

Yes

SSL 2.0 and 3.0 support, PCT 1.0

Yes

SSL only

128-bit encryption version

Yes

Yes

Code signing for Java Applets, scripting

No

Yes

Support for Java Applet sandboxing

Yes (HP-UX)

Yes

Webcasting of Sites, Channels and Software

Internet Explorer 4.0 UNIX

Netscape 4.0 UNIX

Easy optimized webcast of existing sites

Yes

N/A

Proposed channel definition format support

Yes

No

Site architecture changes required

No

N/A

Channels integrated with browser

Yes

N/A

Other Features

Internet Explorer 4.0 UNIX

Netscape 4.0 UNIX

E-mail and news

Yes

Yes

Multimedia streaming

Yes

No

Conference

Third party

No

HTML editing

No

Yes

Central Administration

Internet Explorer 4.0 Administration Kit

Netscape Mission Control, Communicator Prof.

Price for administration software

Free

$1,295 (<200 users)

Price for each Internet suite copy supported

Free

$29

Easy, single-step wizard-based setup

Yes

No

Hands-free setup in corporate deployment

Yes

Yes

Auto Version Synchronization

Yes

No

Automatic Proxy configuration

Yes

Yes

Install other existing UNIX applications

Yes

No

Multiple user profiles sharing same PC

Yes

Yes

Setup, control and update user profiles

Yes

No


Microsoft, Windows, Expedia, Visual Basic, NetShow, Windows NT and Active Channel are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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Last Updated: Tuesday, June 16, 1998
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