Full-featured IE 8 beta announced

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Microsoft says it plans to test-release a feature-complete version of its Internet Explorer 8 Web browser in August.

Microsoft released a first test version of IE 8 in March, providing developers and web designers a preview of the latest update to the world's most widely-used browser.

The next test release, IE 8 Beta 2, will be targeted more at ordinary web users. It will come with all the features that the browser will have when it is officially launched - although it may still contain bugs, since it is a test version.

Microsoft has not set an official release date for IE 8. The company released Internet Explorer 7 in October 2006.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, has pledged to deliver more regular updates of Internet Explorer, which has seen Mozilla's Firefox browser chip away at its lead.

Last month, Firefox released a test version of Firefox 3, an updated version of its internet browser, promising better security, more speed and stability, along with new features like a "smart" location bar that remembers and redirects users to website addresses they have visited before.

Firefox is closely affiliated with Microsoft archrival Google, which provided around 85 per cent of the revenue of Firefox's parent organisation, the Mozilla Foundation, according to filings published last October.

In March, Microsoft provided a glimpse at the new features in IE 8. One feature is called "Activities," which lets users highlight text on a web page and then take that passage into another web service.

For example, a user can highlight an address on a website and, then in one click, call up a map of that location.

Nzherald.co.nz | InfoByte