If you've ever tried to design a web page, you're already experienced with the frustration of creating features that are readable in a variety of browsers. What plays in Netscape, may not play in AOL. What plays in Explorer may not play in Netscape. And effective immediately, what plays in Explorer has programmers excited enough that they may no longer care if the features don't play in other platforms.
As a general rule, the makers of browsers have agreed to stick to a specific set of standards, know as the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) recommendations. By adhering to W3C standards, programmers can be certain that the features they implement while under the influence of one browser, will be available and visible to users of other browsers. By veering off the path of the W3C standards with its latest version of Internet Explorer, developer Microsoft has basically thumbed its ever-so-pervasive nose at Netscape and any other browser in use today. Taking advantage of the fact that IE now commands an 86% share of the browser market, Microsoft is basically saying, "if you want to view these cool features that are available on certain web pages, you'd better get Explorer."
Some of the cool features that are now available in the newest version of Explorer include simplifying the ability to add special page elements, such as a calendar, and the ability to assign characteristics to particular elements of a page, such as a change in color as your mouse passes over an element. Macromedia, whose Flash animation is quickly becoming the standard in web page animation, has designed specific Flash components based on the new technology available in IE5.5.
And there was one additional slap in the face to Netscape users. Those users who attempted to download the new IE5.5 from the Microsoft web site this week were met with a blank screen if they happened to access the site from a Netscape browser. This problem has since been corrected.
See what Microsoft has to say about its new product.