Microsoft on Wednesday released the long-awaited version of the Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) browser for the Windows XP OS.
IE 7 for Windows XP is available as a free download from Microsoft's Web site, and it also will be offered as a high-priority update via Microsoft's Automatic Updates service in November.
A customized version of the browser for Yahoo became available on that company's Web site a few hours before Microsoft's own release. Neither Microsoft nor Yahoo were immediately available for comment on the timing of that release.
The browser runs on Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP 64-bit Edition and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1. Initially available only in English, it will be available in other languages in the coming weeks, Microsoft said.
It is a "subset" of the version of IE 7 that will be included as part of Windows Vista, the next version of Microsoft's client OS. Vista's version of IE 7 will contain two additional security features -- protected mode and parental controls -- than the version of the browser that runs on XP.
Vista is on track to ship to business customers in November and to the general public in January 2007, according to Microsoft.
Some of the new features available in IE 7 include built-in support for RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, tabbed browsing and improved security, including an antiphishing filter that helps ensure users are not providing personal information to known phishing sites.
Microsoft hopes with IE 7 to win back some browser market share it's lost to Mozilla's open-source Firefox browser, and according to the latest figures from OneStat.com, an Web analytics company, early releases of IE 7 seem to be doing just that.
According to OneStat.com figures published earlier this month, IE has 85.85 percent market share, an increase in share of 2.8 percent since July 2006. Firefox's market share is currently 11.49 percent, according to the firm, a decrease of 1.44 percent since July.
(Stephen Lawson in San Francisco contributed to the story.)