Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 7

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Redmond (WA) - Fresh off of the heels of the release of Firefox' latest preview version of its next-generation browser, Microsoft launched a new version of its Internet Explorer browser, the first overall new version in over five years. Microsoft promises ease of use and more security, but has to deal with a vulnerability that was discovered within hours of the browser's release.

Click here to see a preview of IE7 ...

In addition to tabbed browsing - a key feature in Mozilla's Firefox browser - Microsoft claims it has integrated numerous new security safeguards into the new Internet Explorer. However, the browser's introduction is somewhat overshadowed by a minor security hole that was discovered by security firm Secunia within hours of launch: The firm said that IE7 has trouble handling mhtml URLs, which could allow malicious users - such as phishers - to "access documents served from another website" and "disclose potentially sensitive information."

Despite the hiccup, Microsoft claims that the browser is safer than ever. Among the new security features are a phishing filter, an Active X Opt-in, which disables the majority of Active X controls, warnings about risky security settings, extended validation certificates, script barriers, the ability to delete a browsing history list, as well as an anti-domain spoofing tool. However, it remains to be seen, what impact these features will have on security as the dominance of the browser make it the prime target for security experts and hackers at the same time.

People familiar with IE, will find their way within IE7 immediately, as the interface kept its familiar look and feel. However, Microsoft has added a tabbed browsing and quick-tabs and tab groups features, simplified search and RSS accessibility. There are also enhanced printing and favorites functions as well as a page zoom.

In the past five years, Microsoft has done little to change IE 6. Market share of the browser has been quite substantial, with its peak reaching 96% in 2002. However, as new, alternative browsers have surfaced, Microsoft is slowly losing ground, which may be the main motivator behind the new version and its new features. IE now has about 86% market share. Its main competitor, Firefox, is estimated to hold more than 11%.

Internet Explorer 7 is currently available to everyone who has a Windows XP computer, with support for other operating systems on the way, says Microsoft.