Microsoft has taken Internet Explorer 8 out of beta on Monday as it steps up its fight to regain its dominance in the browser wars.

The new IE8 RC1, which is available to download from Microsoft for free, promises a faster browser than Microsoft users have seen before.

Although not the final version of the software, little is expected to be changed when the final version does eventually get released.

The "Release Candidate" however will only be available for Windows Vista users rather than those who are testing out another high-profile beta from Microsoft - Windows 7.

A Windows 7 IE8 RC1 is expected to be available in the coming months after further testing.

The details of the beta version of IE 8 was first touted in March 2008 with the beta opening to the public in August.

Users who have already installed a beta of IE8 will soon be offered an upgrade to RC1 automatically via Windows Update.