Microsoft on Monday raised the curtains on Internet Explorer 6.0
The new browser includes support for P3P (platform for privacy preferences), a standard intended to help boost user privacy currently under development by standards group W3C (the world wide web consortium). IE 6.0 also includes a 'media bar', where users can store links to audio and video content, and a revamped user interface.
The browser will run on Windows 98 and later versions of Microsoft's operating system, the company said. It is available from Microsoft's website.
Microsoft said it had wrapped up the final code for IE 6.0 in early August. At that time a company spokesman said Microsoft didn't plan to release the software as a stand-alone application until its forthcoming Windows XP operating system hits retail shelves on 25 October.
The company has apparently switched tack, offering IE 6.0 to end users a few days after the final version of Windows XP, or 'gold code', was handed to PC makers. Those vendors were given the software on Friday during a publicity stunt at Microsoft's Redmond, Washington headquarters, and will spend the coming weeks loading and testing it on desktop and laptop computers.