Microsoft is planning on releasing a "developer's preview" of Internet Explorer 5.0 later this month, similar to Platform Preview release of IE 4 from a year before. The beta release is designed to get developers and Web designers up to speed with IE 5.0's new features, which are geared largely toward this group rather than interface enhancements. Anyone expecting a new look for the browser will be disappointed, Microsoft officials said.

"It won't seem like much of a step at all \[to look at it\]," said Craig Beilinson, an IE product manager. There are, however, big changes under the hood, he added. "It should be a relatively similar beta cycle to what you've seen from us in the past."

New features in Internet Explorer 5.0 include drag and drop icons, a "snapshot" feature, custom Web page support, and new error messages. The drag and drop icon feature allows users to take a new "Web icon" from a Web page and drag it to another frame, another browser window, the desktop, or another program such as Microsoft Word. These icons are objects that carry text and graphics, or any other HTML element, so they represent an easy way to move information around. The snapshot feature lets Web sites easily store personal information about users so that the information is retained each time they revisit the site. Customized Web page support lets Web developers create site for intranets that can run in "browser-less" windows that lack toolbar and navigational controls. New error messages in IE 5.0 make it easier for users to understand when there is a problem and what that problem really means.

Internet Explorer 5.0 will be faster and more stable than IE 4.0, Microsoft says.

Microsoft is also positioning Dynamic HTML, which first appeared in IE 4.0, as a replacement for Java applets. Dynamic HTML is easier to code than Java, but offers the same features without the need to compile an executable program