AOL has released a preview version of its new browser - a version of the open-source Firefox but with support for Microsoft Internet Explorer tied-in.

Explorer remains the dominant browser on the Net, and many websites have been designed specifically to work with it, to the extent that they do not work correctly in other browsers.

While current Firefox users may switch to Explorer when they have a problem with a site, AOL's Netscape unit has found a different solution. If a website does not display well in the standard Firefox-based configuration in Netscape, it takes two clicks to display the page using the Explorer engine. The browser then stores engine preferences for different websites.

The Netscape browser does not actually include the IE engine, but uses the engine that is part of Windows. As such, the browser only works on Windows computers.

The new Netscape browser offers several other features, including some that give users a lot of control over browser security. For example, users can determine per website if pop-ups and cookies should be allowed and if the browser should run ActiveX controls, JavaScript and Java.

AOL has also expanded support for RSS feeds. It can display rotating headlines from RSS feeds in a special task bar. RSS feeds are an increasingly popular way to syndicate headlines and sometimes entire articles from websites.

The Netscape preview is only available to a select group of testers. A public beta and final release of the new browser is planned for next year. The browser and a new e-mail client will eventually replace the current Netscape offering, an AOL spokesman said earlier this month.

Explorer currently holds 91.57 percent of the US browser market, down from 92.86 percent a month ago, according to WebSideStory. Firefox has 4.2 percent, up from 3.0 percent.