Microsoft's MIX08 conference has now kicked off and the company used it to announced that test versions of Internet Explorer 8.

The company's chief software architect, Ray Ozzie told an audience of web developers and journalists: "I know today that you have many amazing technology choices available to you, but I'd like you to bet on us".

Microsoft didn't give a release date for IE8 but Explorer general manager Dean Hachamovitch showed some of its features.

These include "Activities", which lets users highlight an address on a website, then see a map within the site with a single click.

Users can also highlight a product name and see if the item is available on eBay, for example.

Another key tool lets users save work done on a website to a computer when their Internet connection goes down.

Microsoft also said it was making available a public test version of its Silverlight 2 technology, as well as a beta of Expression Studio 2.