Note: In accordance with published support lifecycle policies, Microsoft will end support for Internet Explorer for Mac on December 31st, 2005, and will provide no further security or performance updates. Additionally, as of January 31st, 2006, Internet Explorer for the Mac will no longer be available for download from Microsoft. Microsoft recommendeds that Macintosh users migrate to more recent web browsing technologies such as Apple's Safari.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 had the distinction of being the most important piece of Macintosh Internet software that went nearly two years without an update. The good part was that it also shared the distinction of being the only piece of Macintosh Internet software that didn't need an update. IE 5 was quite thoroughly tested and tweaked before it was released, and while not completely perfect (what browser is?), it has worked remarkably smoothly since its release in March 2000.
The focus of the onslaught of recent (early to mid 2002) releases has been to make IE "much lighter on its feet, with plenty of bug fixes and impressive new stability and versatility," according to Microsoft. The most noticeable changes have been subtle:
Versions 5.1.7 (for "Classic" Mac OS) and 5.2.3 (for Mac OS X) provide all the latest security and performance enhancements (including the above) for Internet Explorer. These versions also enhance browser compatibility for users who work on a network with secure authentication or with proxy servers, and they will be the final versions of Internet Explorer for Mac OS and Mac OS X, respectively.
Most everything else is as it should be: left well-enough alone. The browser works quite smoothly, and the best features remain intact:
Interesting historical tidbit: with all the bells and whistles in version 5.x, version 4.5 was actually in some ways a more significant release. The features it added (Print Preview, Forms Auto Fill, self-repairing install) were ground-breaking, and - although they are tweaked in 5.x - they owe their true heritage to version 4.5. The version 5.x series has been a highly successful exercise in refinement, which is refreshing in a world of daily bugfix updates.
IE's offline browsing and page saving capabilities are considerably more sophisticated than anything Netscape has ever offered. The ability to email links to friends or co-workers with a simple click of the mouse is a feature I once used several times a day.
But while IE was once "the browser of choice" on the Macintosh platform, it is no longer. As of mid 2003, Microsoft has pulled the plug on future development of this once- groundbreaking product. In the face of great browsers such as Mozilla (including Camino and Firefox) and Safari, that's not the awful news that it once would have been.
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Also, if you have an older Mac, be sure to check out the "Classic" applications page for more options.
Finally, take a look at ALEMIA if you think you know that name of an application, but aren't quite sure.
These are applications that are newer and of potential interest, but which I haven't yet selected for permanent inclusion. Have a look, and let me know if you think they deserve to be part of the permanent collection!