REDMOND, Wash., March 18, 1999 — With more than 100 million people worldwide now connected to the Internet, the online world has quickly become a vital means of communication, collaboration, news, learning, commerce and entertainment. One’s passport to this virtual global community is an Internet browser. And as online opportunities continue to multiply and become even more interesting, more and more people are asking which browser they should choose to take advantage of everything this new Web lifestyle has to offer.
Even before the release of Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 5 browser today, more than 2 million people had answered that question by downloading the beta version of IE 5. Now, with the official launch of IE 5, a key group of Internet service providers, portal sites and content providers are adding their endorsement of this fast, flexible, easy-to-use browser.
More than 140 Internet service providers, seven of the top nine portal sites and more than 300 radio stations worldwide have chosen Internet Explorer 5 technologies as the best way to serve their customers. They are capitalizing on several key enhancements to IE 5: a new Windows Radio Toolbar that provides one-click access to streaming audio content on the Internet while users simultaneously browse the Web; a 25 percent performance boost over Internet Explorer 4.0; a 30 percent-60 percent performance edge over Netscape Navigator 4.5; easy-to-use IntelliSense features that simplify complex browsing tasks; and customization capabilities that enable access providers to modify the interface and add new functionality of their own.
These improvements to Internet Explorer 5 are part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to provide the best tools for the Web lifestyle – in its browser, its Windows operating systems and its desktop applications.
“Internet Explorer 5 breaks new ground in enabling people to get more out of the Internet than they ever have before,” said Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft. “IE5 tackles one of the key challenges in enabling the Web lifestyle by dramatically simplifying and speeding the browsing experience. Consumers have quick and easy access to all the Internet has to offer, from information and commerce to communication.”
Industry Support Expands
Internet service providers, the gateways to the online experience, understand the importance of offering their customers a high-performance Web browser. More than 140 ISPs have selected IE 5 as their default browser, citing speed, ease of use, reliability and sophisticated functionality as the reasons for offering it to their users.
“Internet Explorer 5 offers breakthroughs in ease of use, in functionality, and in reliability,” said Ray Smets, president of BellSouth net Inc. “These are the same attributes that have made the BellSouth.net service one of the fastest growing Internet services in the Southeast. It made perfect sense for us to update our service with Internet Explorer 5.”
This is the first time that BellSouth.net chose to offer Internet Explorer to its customers. For many of the 140 vendors that announced support for Internet Explorer 5, this is also the first time they have joined an Internet Explorer launch effort. There are eight times more service providers offering IE 5 today than there were at the launch of Internet Explorer 4.0, indicating a growing recognition within the Internet-access industry that IE 5 offers the premier browsing experience for customers. The 140 vendors that offer their users IE 5 provide Internet access to more than 70 percent of the ISP users worldwide. They range from global networks like EarthLink to multi-million user services like AT & T to small, regional ISPs.
Portal sites also recognize the importance of giving visitors a fast, friendly online experience. Seven of the top nine portal sites – AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, Infoseek’s Go Network, MSN, Snap and Yahoo! – provide IE 5 to their users. For them, the key factor in choosing IE 5 was their ability to customize the browser with the tools in the Internet Explorer Administration Kit 5. The Internet Explorer Administration Kit 5 allows vendors, distributors and administrators to modify the user interface and add new buttons, menu items and Explorer Bars.
“We’re able to easily mold the browser to take advantage of our specific content ,” said Celia Francis, Director of Marketing of search engine and portal site AltaVista. AltaVista’s version of Internet Explorer 5 includes a personalized window in the browser that allows AltaVista users to easily access AV Tracker – a tool that provides instantaneous language translation of Web pages – while helping them stay current on the latest news, weather, sports and stock information.
Windows Radio Toolbar Debuts
Another way that Internet Explorer 5 enhances the Web lifestyle is by offering users the ability to listen to streaming audio broadcasts while browsing the Web. Through a new feature of IE 5, the Windows Radio Toolbar, Internet users get one-click access to news and entertainment from more than 300 radio stations worldwide, ranging from general-interest programs like CNN’s news channel to specialty shows like Snowboarding Online Television.
“Being able to listen to your favorite radio station over the Internet – whether it be your local station, the most popular nationally syndicated shows, or a station on the other side of the world – is a real benefit for our customers and is now simpler than ever,” said Yusuf Mehdi, director of Windows marketing at Microsoft. “By offering a breakthrough in the usability of streaming audio, we expect that the Windows Radio Toolbar will further accelerate the rapidly growing market for streaming audio on the Internet.”
Some of the respected broadcasters that are providing better service to their audiences through the Windows Radio Toolbar include the BBC, with British news and information; Bloomberg, with financial news and investment research; CNN/SI, with sports news and profiles; House of Blues, with blues music; and ZDTV, with high-technology news and information. All together, the 300 radio stations available through the Windows Radio Toolbar today account for 75 percent of the major radio markets; which means that users of IE 5 in 16 of the 20 largest US cities can enjoy a local radio station via the Windows Radio toolbar – with many more local and Internet stations on the way.
Since its beta release last year, Internet Explorer 5 has been in high demand and has earned high marks for pleasing customers. A recent survey of beta testers praised Internet Explorer 5’s capabilities and improvements, with 97 percent expressing high satisfaction. The enthusiastic response to Internet Explorer 5 from consumers, Internet service providers, portal sites and content providers answers the question that more and more users are asking: Internet Explorer 5 is the leading browser for enabling the Web lifestyle.