Microsoft Corp. announced the official beta release of its newest XML parser, which is available for immediate download from the MSDN XML Developer Center ). This version of the parser, MSXML3, increases XML conformance over previous releases by achieving a pass rate of over 98 percent using the OASIS XML Conformance Test Suite. It also extends support for the Simple API for XML (SAX2) programming interface, making SAX2 accessible from the Visual Basic development system. This version of the parser marks the transition from “technology preview” to full beta, with general product availability scheduled for Web release in fall 2000. XML is a key technology of the Microsoft.Net Platform, and MSXML3 lays the groundwork for that vision by allowing developers to rapidly build and deliver XML-based Web services today. Since the last release just two months ago, when SAX2 support was added, one of the most requested features was access to SAX2 from Visual Basic. Extending access to developers using Visual Basic is a reflection of Microsoft’s commitment to delivering the features its customers demand in “Internet time.” SAX2 is designed to enable fast and efficient processing of XML by allowing programs such as the Visual C++ development system, and now Visual Basic, to read, review and process XML files without having to load the entire document into memory. Microsoft released the first version of the new XML parser in January 2000 with updated versions posting in March and May.