Netscape attacks IE 5 'innovations'

Internet Explorer 5.0 is too large, lacks standards support and is too desktop-centric, says Netscape in a white paper on its rival's latest browser release.

Officials at Netscape, now a division of America Online, have downplayed Internet Explorer 5.0 as a relatively minor release with a desktop-centric focus that misses the new developments on the Web.

According to a Netscape white paper, Internet Explorer 5.0 is too large at 50MB and lacks such standards as Resource Description Framework and the Document Object Model (DOM).

The Web Standards Project (WSP) agreed with Netscape that Internet Explorer 5.0 falls short on standards support, and even issued a press release stating that such failures could lead to further fragmentation of the Web.

Although Internet Explorer 5.0 makes major improvements compared to Internet Explorer 4.0, the product will require extensive "work-arounds and debugging" by Web developers, the WSP stated.

The standards-related problems in Internet Explorer, as reported by the WSP, include, but are not limited to: failure to fully support Cascading Style Sheets 1.0; "spotty at best" support for DOM 1.0; bugs in Internet Explorer 5.0's interpretation of XML data; implementation of an experimental version of XSL that could result in incompatibility with the actual XSL standard when it is finalised; and bugs and missing features in HTML 4.0 support.

Users of Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0 may also encounter bugs in Internet Explorer 5.0. Microsoft last week published a list of incompatibilities between the browser and Visual Studio, including bugs related to the creation, debugging, and distribution of Dynamic HTML. Microsoft said it will release a service pack for Visual Studio 6.0 this spring to fix the problems.

In competing with Microsoft, Netscape is this month beginning the early release of a series of smaller, specialised browsers with the Gecko browser engine at their core, in a bid to deliver rich, Web-based applications and services through small, high-speed browsers that can run anywhere -- from traditional PC desktops to a wide variety of devices, according to the company.

The WSP claims that Gecko, although still in alpha testing, already shows more extensive standards support than Internet Explorer 5.0.

Gecko, initially on the 32-bit Windows, Mac OS, and Linux platforms, will offer full support for XML and partial early support for XSL, as well as include the Expat XML parser. Full support for the World Wide Web Consortium's Cascading Style Sheets and DOM is also planned, according to Eric Krock, senior product manager for Navigator at Netscape.

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