Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 FrontRunner

by Mary Millhollon, Luanne O'Loughlin, Toni Zucccarini

Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 FrontRunner
Mary Millhollon, Luanne O'Loughlin, Toni Zucccarini
Coriolis Group Books
US$ 29.99
Just recently Microsoft released her latest browser, Internet Explorer 4. But this is not just a browser for the Internet, it can also be integrated into your Windows operating system. If you install MS IE 4 on your computer you get a look into the future: Windows 98. Microsoft promises that in the next Windows release the browser will be totally integrated into the operating system. This means the border between local computing or Internet computing is becoming less and less obvious. And because Internet Explorer comes with a lot of new features the authors decided to write a book about it. Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 FrontRunner describes all the capabilities of the browser, the Web integration, Active channels, the Active Desktop, Netmeeting and Outlook Express.

The book consists of 14 chapters and a appendix. The first chapter gives the reader an introduction to the Internet. Subjects as the World Wide Web, Internet Service Providers, Online services are described. Questions like What is a Internet address made up of, what is the difference between sites and Web pages and what are viruses are answered. (Unfortunately there is a little misprint in this chapter. The author states that the domain name .dk stands for Dutch sites, but Dutch sites got .nl as domain name. You probably got to be a Dutch reader to notice the misprint, but then I am.)

The next chapter introduces the browser to the reader. First is explained how to download and install Microsoft Internet Explorer 4. Next the basic menus and window elements are described. This chapter lays the framework for the rest of the book.

Chapter 3 describes the unique Web Integration features of Internet Explorer. First the single explorer feature is covered. Single explorer means that Internet Explorer can be used to explore the Internet and your local computer with the same program. The dynamic toolbars and menus, and their differences are described and explained. The next True Web Integration (TWI) feature explained is the Active Desktop. The Active Desktop is an extra layer on your desktop capable of showing Internet related content (HTML, Java and ActiveX). Every new item on your Start button and desktop is clearly explained. And finally channels are covered. What they are, how to subscribe and how to unsubscribe to channels is clearly explained.

We now know the basic of IE 4, it is time for some extra inside information and shortcuts for doing things quicker and easier. Chapter 4 provides us with information on these subjects. The first part of the chapter gives on overview of the MS IE 4 extra opposed to other browsers. Subjects as DirectX, ActiveX, security, multilingual enhancement and rating are covered. The second part of the chapter gives the reader shortcuts for using IE 4. How to use keyboard commands, your right mouse button and drag and drop is explained.

Internet Explorer gives the user a lot of options to customize the browser to his or hers likings. But instead of just trying the options and see what they do, Chapter 5 Getting to Know your Options, gives you a good reference for the options available to you. This way you can first read what an option will do before you choose to use the option.

Chapter 6, Searching and Search Engines, takes us on to the Internet. It describes the two different ways for searching the Internet from within Internet Explorer. Also a lot of different search engines are named, included with tips on how to use them.

When you are surfing and browsing on the Internet you usually want to keep tracks of some of your favorites sites and pages. IE helps you with features as Favorites, History and Subscriptions. These topics are described in chapter 7. What is a Internet shortcut, how to organize your Favorites folder are some of the questions answered in this chapter. Also a couple examples are included on how to use the different features of IE 4.

One of the nice features of the Internet is the possibility of downloading files and programs. Chapter 8 doesn't just describe how to download files from within IE, but also where to find those files you want to download. A couple of sites with shareware programs are named and described.

The explorer features of Internet Explorer are now fully covered. But IE comes with more than just a browser. Also included is Outlook Express Mail, an email and newsreader program. Outlook Express is a stripped version of Outlook that is included with the Microsoft Office 97 suite. This chapter is fully packed to describe all the features of Outlook Express. From how to connect to your mailbox with your ISP to organizing folders with the Inbox Assistant for filtering your mail. When you are done reading this chapter you will know all you need to know, to use Outlook Express as your default mail progam. Topics like HTML and plain text format, MIME and UUEncode format for attachments are clearly explained.

But Outlook Express is not just a mail reader it is also a news reader program. Chapter 10 covers the newsgroups features of Outlook Express. Starting with a short introduction to Usenet newsgroups, how to subscribe and unsubscribe and some netiquette for newsgroups. Next is explained how to react to messages in newsgroups, how to organise your messages and how to use the offline reading feature of Outlook Express.

Netmeeting is a tool provided with IE 4 that makes dynamic collaboration on the Internet possible. Users have access to realtime audio and video communication. Chapter 11 helps us getting started with this tool. How to connect to other users of Netmeeting, how to use the different features of Netmeeting are clearly explained here.

The Internet isn't the text-based medium it was a couple of years ago. Multimedia like animation, audio, video and 3D are more and more common on web sites. IE 4 incorporates a lot of the technologies used to present us with multimedia on the Net. Chapter 12, Multimedia, MSIE, and the Web, covers the technologies IE4 supports, from animated gifs, streaming audio and video to 3D VRML worlds.

The last two chapters of the book and the appendix describe how to make your own Web page with FrontPage Express, the HTML editor provided with MS IE 4. At the end of the two chapters you get a pretty good picture of what is possible with HTML but don't expect to know all there is to know about HTML.

Microsoft has redefined the browser with their release of IE 4. They are know frontrunner on the browser market. But this also means that IE 4 isn't a lean browser, but a lot more than that. Features as TWI and extras like Outlook Express are nice, but can be overwhelming to learn and use. This book will get you right on the way in using IE 4 and all of its features. If you don't have the time or spirit to explore all the features by yourself, this book is a very good alternative. When you are done reading, you are familiar with all its features and possibilities, and confident to use Internet Explorer 4 to its maximum.

(Hubert A. Klein Ikkink)

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