March 19, 2009

Microsoft Publicly Releases Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft Corp. publicly released its latest edition of its Internet Explorer Web browser on Thursday after almost a year of public beta testing.

Internet Explorer 8 is available as a free download on Microsoft's Web site to licensed Microsoft operating system users. IE8 will run on computers with Windows Vista as well as Windows XP, Microsoft said.

The browser, featured in 25 languages, will also become part of Windows 7, Microsoft's yet to be released operating system.

In a press release marking the release of IE8, Microsoft cited a study commissioned by the firm and the National Cyber Security Alliance and conducted by Harris Interactive Inc. The study shows that 91 percent of adults in the U.S. are concerned about online threats in the current economic climate, and 78 percent are more likely to choose a Web browser with built-in security than they were two years ago, Microsoft said.

The statement also cited a study released today by NSS Labs that suggests that IE8 "blocks two to four times as many malicious sites as other browsers on the market today."

"Customers have made clear what they want in a Web browser - safety, speed and greater ease of use," said Microsoft boss, Steve Ballmer.

"With Internet Explorer 8, we are delivering a browser that gets people to the information they need, fast, and provides protection that no other browser can match."

Microsoft has added new features to its browser, including "Accelerators," which shorten the time and number of clicks needed to perform simple tasks online. Users can simply right-click a word or phrase and instantly map, e-mail, or share it, said Microsoft.

"The accelerated menu is something no other browser has," Computer Active's deputy editor, Tom Royal told BBC News.

"The contextual popup menus are a real step forward - for example, highlighting and right-clicking on a postcode automatically brings up Google maps. This has real potential and will make surfing the web much easier. I'm sure others will follow up with something similar," he said, adding: "a browser is still a very personal choice."

Additionally, IE8 comes with so-called Web slices, which "makes favorite information from sites such as Digg, Yahoo! Mail, OneRiot, and eBay instantly available wherever someone goes on the Web."

"We are excited about Internet Explorer 8 for several reasons, including its ability to provide our customers with updates to eBay products using Web Slices so they can keep track of their buying activity while surfing the web," said Matt Ackley, vice president of Internet Marketing and Advertising at eBay.


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