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Microsoft Launches Privacy Rich IE8 Beta 2

Microsoft launches a new test build of its upcoming Web browser, which allows users to surf the Web with a greater degree of privacy than they've ever enjoyed.


IE8 beta 2 is available in English, Chinese (simplified), Japanese, and German, and also includes enhanced search capabilities, said James Pratt, senior product manager for Internet Explorer, in an interview with ChannelWeb.

IE8 beta 2 adds ties with search providers that enable users to enter search terms and receive additional contextually-related terms, Pratt said. For example, a user who enters 'Seattle' would also receive search suggestions for terms like 'Space Needle' and 'Seahawks' [Seattle's NFL team].

Other key features of IE8 include Activities, which allow users to take their favorite online services and group them together; and Web Slices, which lets users subscribe to content on portions of Web pages and have it sent directly to their browsers.

With beta 2, Microsoft has focused on making IE8 a "more reliable browsing companion," according to Pratt. While IE7 included an anti-phishing filter to protect users from social engineering attacks, IE8 adds a 'smart screen' filter that also helps protect users from Websites that distribute malware, Pratt said.

But it's the privacy features in IE8 beta 2 that are garnering the most attention from users, primarily because Microsoft is giving users more control over their history, cookies, and other data that IE stores.

InPrivate Browsing (also known as 'porn mode') lets users decide whether or not they want IE to save their browsing history, cookies, and other data; InPrivate Blocking flags Web content that can potentially observe their browsing history; and InPrivate Subscriptions lets users specify lists of Websites to block or allow.

"When you talk to end users about security, they're often concerned with who can see what they're doing on the Web," said Pratt. "There are times when you want to surf the Web without being tracked."

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