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After months of beta testing Microsoft has finally released a new version of Internet Explorer web browser. It is the first in in five years. The upgrade comes as FireFox grabs share from the Microsoft browser.

Explorer became the dominant browser for viewing the world wide web after it took on Netscape in the late 1990s. From less than 20 per cent market share in 1996, it grew to more than 80 per cent by 2000.
Microsoft released five versions in that time but there have been no new versions since Internet Explorer 6 in August 2001, leading to accusations that Microsoft has ceased to innovate due to the lack of competition.

IE6 was introduced to coincide with the launch of its Windows XP operating system and Internet Explorer 7 is timed for the release of Windows Vista, its new operating system, due in the next three months.

Microsoft has faced increasing competitionfrom Firefox, a new open-source browser, based partly on the old Netscape browser code.

Microsoft’s market share has fallen from 93 per cent two years ago to around 86 per cent in the US, with Firefox gaining 11 per cent share, according to web statistics firm WebSideStory.

Firefox was faster than Explorer and introduced features such as tabbed browsing, where several pages can be open at once. Version 2.0 is about to be released.

IE7 has tabbed browsing, improved printing and stronger security to defend against malicious attacks. Despite this, security researchers warned of a new “hole” in the browser within hours of its release.

 To download go to: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx
 

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