Microsoft, who is struggling to compete with a surging Google Chrome and a brand new Firefox browser, has finally launched the final version of its Internet Explorer 9 browser.
The company, who has struggled with browser security issues and the slowness of prior Internet Explorer browsers which often crash or freeze believes that they have now got on top of their problems with new security and privacy features that will put them on an even footing with Firefox, Chrome, Safari and others.
The release comes as Microsoft’s browser market share is being whittled down every month as consumers move to Chrome and Firefox.
Competition is also coming from non-browser traffic generated by mobile phones and tablets.
Microsoft said one key feature in IE9 was tools to stop people being tracked as they move from site to site. This information is often gathered by commercial firms to tailor ads to the specific habits of web users.
In addition, said Microsoft, separate tools in IE9 keep an eye on downloads so they can spot when viruses and trojans try to sneak onto a computer.
IE9 also has hardware acceleration built in so it can call on the power of a PC’s graphics card to display sites in more detail.
The BBC said that the launch comes at a critical time for Microsoft as, one survey suggests, its Internet Explorer browser is suffering a long-term decline.
Ovum analyst Richard Edwards said: “We believe the next battle ground for the browser wars will be fought not on the desktop, but on the smartphone and tablet.”
“This is where Microsoft’s existing browser offering still has a lot of catching up to do,” he added.
Microsoft said the 40 million test, or beta, versions of IE9 that had been downloaded made it the most downloaded of all time. Already, it said 2% of Windows 7 users were running the latest version.
IE9 does not run on Windows XP and can only be used with Windows 7 and Vista.