Last week, Microsoft previewed Internet Explorer 5.0 for developers at its Redmond campus and the word from attendees is that IE 5.0 will be extremely customizable and far smaller than IE 4.0. Users will be able to selectively download only the components of IE 5.0 that they wish to use, instead of having to grab the whole thing.

"The \[IE 5.0\] Internet Explorer Administration Kit will let you define which components to install or not install in great detail, so you can minimize the footprint," said a developer who attended the preview. "If you write an application that uses the HTML rendering engine but no Java, why should you have to ship an extra 4MB with the app? They put in this thing that lets you only install the HTML rendering engine."

The first beta of IE 5.0 is expected in May, while Microsoft is expecting to bundle the new browser with Windows NT 5.0, which is expected in early 1999. Microsoft has also committed to a 16-bit Windows 3.1 version of IE 5.0.