October 1997 // Featured Products
Introducing Internet Explorer 4.0!
Note: This article was originally published in The Technology Source (http://ts.mivu.org/) as: "Introducing Internet Explorer 4.0!" The Technology Source, October 1997. Available online at http://ts.mivu.org/default.asp?show=article&id=1034. The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

Microsoft is proud to introduce the education community to Internet Explorer 4.0. Internet Explorer 4.0 has some great features and technologies that will jumpstart online learning and bring you "The Web the Way You Want It!"

Internet Explorer 4.0 is a monumental browser release for two reasons: it greatly improves upon current web browser, email, collaboration, and web page creation technology and also provides brand new opportunities for integrating the best of the PC with the strengths of the Internet.

Educators and students want to get information as efficiently as possible, whether they are going out to find information on new sites or monitoring sites that are already favorites. Internet Explorer 4.0 has great solutions for both of these tasks.

First, Internet Explorer 4.0 is the best browser: it is easy, personal, and secure. Searching for content on the Internet is currently too difficult. In order to make this easier, we have added a search bar to Internet Explorer that gives easy access to Web search engines and lists the search results in view while the user explores the sites that are listed. We’ve also added a history bar that groups sites that you have visited before by the day you visited the site and the domain name. It is easy to find sites that you’ve visited in the past!

IE also introduces a new security concept to the Web: security zones. Security zones allow the user or administrator to define what sites should be trusted: it makes sense that one should be confident on the school network and would set a lower level of security for the school network zone than she would for the general Internet zone. Only Internet Explorer 4.0 makes designating trusted and untrusted sites so easy.

The Internet is a fabulous tool for teaching, but pull-based web pages and browsing doesn’t take full advantage of all of the opportunities that the Internet offers. Internet Explorer 4.0 brings the Internet much further than simple browsing with communication and collaboration tools, webcasting, and true web integration that brings the best of the web to the PC desktop. All of these components are available free of charge on the Microsoft Web site.

In order to further online learning opportunities on the Web, we need to offer functionality for students with different Internet connections, operating systems, and time requirements. The following scenarios demonstrate how IE 4 and other free components (NetMeeting for collaboration, Outlook Express for email, NetShow for streamed audio and video, and FrontPad, a web site creation tool) provides unmatched services for answering this need:

Course Website: By subscribing to a course or any university channel, students will always know when content has been updated (the term subscription only refers to the continued presentation of information available with Internet Explorer 4.0 – no charges need apply). Subscribers can be notified of content updates by a change in icon or email in their Microsoft Outlook Express (or other email client) inbox. They can also have the new site content automatically downloaded for offline viewing – even students without permanent connections can have the information waiting for them when they get there. Using Microsoft NetShow, students could receive streamed audio and video for viewing lecture videos or slide shows that are synchronized with the audio lecture with maximum performance.

Online office hours: group chatting is only a springboard for Internet Explorer 4.0 and its components! Using Microsoft NetMeeting an unlimited number of students can connect with other students, teachers, or tutors and have full audio conferencing, share a whiteboard where they can all collaborate at once, and use group chatting. Participants can be on or off-campus – they can be anywhere in the world! In addition, someone in the NetMeeting could share out any application – regardless of whether anyone else has it on her computer – and others could complete a problem on that application while everybody watches. Two people can even videoconference while this is all going on!

Desktop notification: Students can integrate information from the Web directly with their Windows 95 or NT Active Desktop. Local or network folders can be viewed as web pages, the start button and taskbar are Internet-enabled, and Active Desktop components provide up-to-the-minute information on the desktop. One example of an easily implemented desktop component for a university is an information pane where a student could receive up-to-the-minute links to online office hours and other class information, bulletins for student groups, and information from the school newspaper. Other cool components could be a ticker that gives school sports scores or a search box right in the Windows 95/NT toolbar for searching the university web site.

These scenarios are only a fraction of the potential uses of new Internet Explorer 4.0 technologies. For more information on Internet Explorer 4.0 and its great components, please go to http://www.microsoft.com/ie/.

IE also is perfect for schools because it is free and easy for administrators to distribute. Anyone can download the product from http://www.microsoft.com/ie/ free of charge starting September 30. Also available in early October will be the Internet Explorer Administration Kit, a tool that allows administrators and Information Technology staff to customize IE to include school proxy and server settings, dial-up numbers, and even preload favorites, channels, and Active Desktop components. Internet Explorer 4.0 will be released for the Macintosh and Windows 3.x operating systems by the end of 1997. See you on the Web!

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