Microsoft has quietly released a version of Internet Explorer 5 that cures its problems with "tunnelling". This new build also appears to solve incompatibilities with Office 2000 and problems reported by Palm handheld users when synchronising with IE 5's Outlook Express 5.0 e-mail client.
The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, or PPTP, secures communications between two computers across the non-secure Internet. Tunnelling was introduced with Dial-Up Networking (DUN) 1.2 for Windows 95 and is a standard feature of Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 and later. To learn how to set it up, see support.microsoft.com/support/kb/ articles/q221/1/19.asp.
A previous column (ARN May 5, page 36) reported that upgrading from IE 4.0 to IE 5 made it impossible for users of tunnelling to connect. The work-around is detailed at support.microsoft.com/ support/kb/articles/q222/9/36.asp.
A Microsoft source, who asked not to be identified, said: "The issue isn't with IE, it is with [DUN in] Win95/98."
The source said a patch for DUN will be included in the Windows 98 Service Pack, which will be available for download from Microsoft in a few weeks. The fix will also be in the Win98 Second Edition that will be in stores soon. Additionally, "Anyone buying Office 2000 will get this [new] build of IE automatically and so they don't need to download this build," the Microsoft source said.
If you can't wait, however, "We wanted to make the tunnelling fix available, so it is included in this build of IE and posted to the Web for downloading," the source said.
Unfortunately, Microsoft's download site for IE 5 doesn't indicate that the version has changed. Also, those who have tried to install the new build have found that you must uninstall the old IE 5 before the setup of the new build will work. So I don't recommend downloading the new build unless you are affected by one of these problems.
The Microsoft download site is at www.microsoft. com/windows/ie/download/default.asp. The original build of IE 5 appeared on March 18. The new build can be identified in IE 5's Help About box with the version number 5.00.2314. If you see a build number lower than 2314, you're not running the latest IE 5.
Steve King, a Redlands, California, reader, was the first to alert me that a new version of IE 5 had been slipstreamed into Microsoft's Web site.
"The work-around you mentioned [using the IP address] worked fine but was not a total solution for us," King wrote. "Our servers can have different IP addresses depending on how we connect."
The new build cures this. King will receive a free copy of Windows 98 Secrets.
The problem with Palm synchronisation kept users of the original IE 5 from HotSyncing their Outlook Express 5.0 data with Palm handhelds. To fix this, download the latest update to Pocket Mirror (assuming this is your sync software), then download build 2314 of IE 5, which includes Outlook Express 5.0. This fix has been described at length in two newsgroups: alt.comp.sys.palmtops.pilot and comp.sys.palmtops.pilot.
(Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows 98 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to brian_livingston@ infoworld.com. He regrets that he cannot answer individual questions.)