The first public beta of Internet Explorer 4.0 for the Macintosh will be posted on Wednesday, giving Apple users their first chance to test the next generation browser from Microsoft. IE 4.0 for the Mac will eventually offer most of the features from the Windows version but will lack the tight integration with the operating system user interface. Channel support in the Mac version will let users connect to IE 4.0 channels that were created for the Windows version without any conversion or code-rewriting.

Additionally. Mac users will be able to choose between the Apple-supplied Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and the Microsoft version. Because the Macintosh does not handle memory as efficiently as Windows 95 and NT, the Mac version of IE 4.0 is being written to fit within a 4MB RAM partition. Though Outlook Express will be included in a later release, the version shipping this week still includes the older Mail and News clients.

Microsoft expects to ship the final version of the Mac IE 4.0 within three months of the Windows version, which is due in late August or early September