After a lapse of 5 years without an update, Microsoft has finally released the latest version of its web browser, Internet Explorer.
IE7 is available now to download from Microsoft's website, and will be distributed gradually as an automatic update that users can choose to download or reject.
Although Internet Explorer has long been the most popular web browser, it has recently lost ground to open-source Mozilla's Firefox software. According to OneStat, IE has around an 86% share of the browser market, while Firefox has an 11.5% share.
Microsoft has integrated new features into IE7 that other browsers, including Firefox, already contain. IE7 now supports tabbed browsing, which lets users open new pages in tabs, rather than separate windows, as well as colour-coded warnings in the address bar to signify dodgy websites. It also now integrates a web search bar in the browser so that there's no need to visit a separate search page.
IE7 will be integrated into Microsoft's new operating system, Vista, when it launches next year.
Microsoft's IE7 release will be shortly followed by a new version of Mozilla's browser, Firefox version 2. Its new features include the ability to restore work thought lost when software or the PC crashes, and new spell check functions for emails and blogging.
In related news, internet security analysts SurfControl are warning of a phishing campaign that leads unsuspecting people to a page that downloads a Trojan virus rather than IE7. An email that looks like it's sent from firstname.lastname@example.org leads to a page the mimics a Microsoft webpage, but actually contains malicious code, Win32.Small.cxz.