It doesn't look like Microsoft will make its goal of releasing Internet Explorer 8 by the end of this year.
Microsoft will release one more public beta of the browser software in the first quarter of 2009, according to a blog posting Wednesday by Dean Hachamovitch, Internet Explorer general manager at Microsoft. That "release candidate" will be followed by the final release, Hachamovitch said.
Microsoft first demonstrated the new release of Internet Explorer 8 at the vendor's Mix conference in March, followed quickly by the product's first beta. That was followed by the second beta in August and that's the version the Microsoft community has been testing. The final release of the software was widely expected by the end of 2008.
Hachamovitch's blog didn't offer any specifics about the reason for the delay, other than to emphasize that Microsoft is being extra judicious in giving beta testers time to try out the software and incorporating their feedback into the product. Hachamovitch said Microsoft "received a lot of feedback about how we transitioned from the IE7 beta releases to the IE7 final release, and as a result we want to be clear about the plan for IE8."
Solution providers and developers have eagerly anticipated IE8 for such new features as its expanded security and privacy capabilities, including allowing users to decide whether to let the browser save cookies and browsing history. A new "Web slices" feature let's users subscribe to content on different parts of Web pages and have it sent directly to their browser.
Hachamovitch urged the Microsoft community to download the second beta now and report any issues. "We want the technical community of people and organizations interested in Web browsers to take this update as a strong signal that IE8 is effectively complete and done," he wrote. "They should expect the final product to behave as this update does."