Firefox's challenge to become king of the browser market may be put on hold as Microsoft announces plans that it will be releasing a new version of Internet Explorer.

The world's most popular internet browser wasn't due to get an update until Microsoft launched Longhorn in 2006, but it seems Bill Gates isn't prepared to wait that long.

Version 7 will be heavily focused on security, with new anti-spyware and phishing features being at the core of the new edition and strengthen some of the initiatives made in Service Pack 2.

Microsoft is expected to launch a beta version for testers in the summer, although specific details, like whether it will include tabs browsing or the ability to have different third party open source add-on's bolted on as in Firefox has yet to be confirmed.

Many commentators believe the reasoning behind the move is the surprise success of Firefox. Since its launch in November last year the browser has taken 10 per cent of the market share.