Even before today's launch, IE 5 was attracting record interest. According to Tony Wilkinson, Internet Explorer Product Manager at Microsoft Australia, downloads of the beta product outpaced Internet Explorer 4.0 beta downloads by more than three to one. "We know that customers who used the Internet Explorer 5 beta noticed significant improvements in their browsing experience", Wilkinson said. "In fact, in a recent Microsoft survey, over 93 per cent of respondents stated that they were satisfied with the new simplicity features and found them directly relevant to their daily browsing needs."
IE 5 incorporates a range of new features designed to appeal to business and home users. It's leaner than its predecessor (the download can be as small as 6.5MB, almost half the size of IE 4) and pages load up to 25 per cent faster, according to Microsoft. New IntelliSense technology can be used to automate common Web tasks, while search and navigation features have been simplified. Organisations should benefit from enhanced deployment and management tools which allow administrators to customise browser installations and set security levels.
Today's Sydney launch took the form of a pseudo radio show, perhaps to highlight one of the more unusual features of IE 5. A new Radio toolbar provides access to a range of radio stations. These are Australian by default, but users can venture further afield and listen to Jazz FM in England, Radio Moliceiro in Portugal or FM Osaka in Japan, to name but a few.
Microsoft clearly wants its new browser to appeal to a broad customer base. Versions of IE 5 are being delivered simultaneously for Windows 95/98, NT 3.51/4.0, Sun Solaris and HP-UX (Linux users need not apply). And it's not just a browser for the English-speaking world - IE 5 will initially be available in 10 languages, with 16 more being added over the next few weeks.
After 9pm (18 March EST), Internet Explorer 5 can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com.
[Note: Starting in May, IE 5 will be included on the PC World cover CD. An in-depth review of the new browser will be posted on our Web site shortly.]