. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cyrillic Users Win Big In Web Browser Battle

Although beginning your exploration of the World Wide Web is dead easy, viewing Web pages written in Cyrillic has, until now, been more tricky. The fonts you see on your screen when you are using a Web browser are not the same as the fonts used by your other Mac or Windows applications. Your browser needs to know how to decode a page when it loads it in order to view different alphabets.

A problem with Cyrillic pages is that there is more than one Cyrillic text standard, so decoding web pages you wish to view cannot be automatic. This creates irritating hassle for people wanting to set up their browsers to view Cyrillic text and has, no doubt, put off a lot of non-technical people unprepared for the task of adapting their software.

The subject of this column was to be how to adapt your browser for Cyrillic. But thanks to recent releases by Netscape and Microsoft, all of this hardship is now a thing of the past.

Last week Netscape Communications released the latest version of Navigator. In this version 3.0, adapting your browser to view Cyrillic text has been made as easy as switching fonts in your word processor.

All you need to do is choose "Options" from the menu followed by "Document Encoding." You then need to choose one of two Cyrillic options depending on what standard the page you are viewing uses (Win1251 or Cyrillic ISO8859-5). After choosing, reload the web page you need to view and Hey, Presto! -- Cyrillic text. Of course, your adjusted browser will still read Latin text, too.

Virtually simultaneous to Navigator 3.0's release, Microsoft Corp. unveiled the latest version of Internet Explorer 3.0. In the U.S. English version, viewing Cyrillic pages is also simple. Under "View," choose "Options" and then "Font Settings." There, you should have the choice of a Cyrillic font. Web pages should then load in Cyrillic.

Microsoft aims to integrate Explorer with the next version of Windows, and it comes in a number of languages. (The Russian version of Internet Explorer 3.0 is still being Beta tested, but the unfinished software can still be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site.)

Internet Explorer 3.0 is only available for two operating systems -- Windows 95 and Windows NT, but in a number of different languages. In fewer language versions, Netscape Navigator 3.0 is available for all major desktop operating systems.

According to International Data Corporation, over three quarters of all people browsing the web are using Netscape Navigator. Microsoft, however, has set its sights on bulldozing its way into this market and today the two companies are the bitterest rivals in the computer industry.

If you try both browsers, you may well witness a guerrilla war as Microsoft and Netscape literally slug it out on your desktop. Many PC applications now automatically load a web browser when the user clicks on a World Wide Web locator. Your "default browser" is the one that loads when another application activates one of these links. While you are installing Explorer, the software innocently asks you if you would like to make Explorer your default browser. You type "No." But the next time you load Netscape, a rather miffed program tells you all Internet short cuts to Netscape have been cut anyway and do you want them restored?

Navigator 3.0 is available free of charge (for evaluation) at http://www.netscape.com/.

Microsoft Internet Explorer is available free of charge (for keeps) at http://www.microsoft.com/ie/download/.

Robert Farish is the editor of Computer Business Russia, fax: 929-9958, e-mail: farish@sovam.com