Microsoft has delayed the release of the Mac edition of Internet Explorer 5.0 (IE 5.0), first shown at Macworld Expo, San Francisco, where it won a 'best of show' award.

The browser was originally slated for release in mid-March, but the actual shipping date is still not clear. Some Microsoft officials promise IE 5.0 in the next couple of weeks, while others claim the browser will not ship for a few months.

Microsoft said: "We will be releasing this very, very soon. We are making sure IE 5.0 is a high-quality release and are taking a little extra time to make sure that we are releasing the best Mac browser available. Thank you for your patience."

Micro-Confusion dot com A UK-based Microsoft official said that release is imminent: "Everything seems to point to before the end of the March. I think other language versions will follow mid-to-late April."

But the press office does not agree. Karina Gasking, at the Microsoft press centre told Macworld: "I can’t confirm a launch date for IE 5.0 for the Mac. We understand from the US that the release date is anticipated to be June/July 2000."

Microsoft’s press centre can’t even agree with itself, Tom Carter told Macworld: "We don’t have a release schedule for it at the moment, but it seems to be set for the third or fourth quarter this year."

Mac OS X support? Apple is expected to put Mac OS X on general release during the third quarter this year. The announcement and subsequent confusion regarding the actual release of IE 5.0 could indicate that Microsoft plans on taking advantage of the technological innovations of OS X in its forthcoming browser.

Alternatively, the company might have encountered unexpected problems with IE 5.0’s development – or one side doesn’t know what the other side is doing, and the product will ship at the end of the month.

Internet Explorer 5.0 for Windows appeared in March, 1999.