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Internet Explorer 8 goes into private beta

Just over a year after the seventh version of Microsoft's web browser hit the streets, the next version has gone ito closed testing.

Internet Explorer 8, the next incarnation of Microsoft's Windows-based web browser is not only in the works, but has already gone into closed beta testing ahead of a public test release in the summer.

The private beta trial, comprising a small number of invited and "qualified beta testers" will get the first look at the next incarnation of IE, which Microsoft claims will be its most standards-compliant browser to date, reversing a history if being the opposite.

It contains a new mechanism for rendering websites that have been written to work properly in Internet Explorer 6, which by Microsoft's own admission was far from standards compliant.

Otherwise, all Microsoft is saying is IE 8 will introduce a new user-agent identifier, MSIE 8.0, which tells websites what browser is being used, allowing for browser-specific style sheets and features to be activated.

While most websites ignore this, some that require higher levels of security use it to control which browsers may be permitted to access the site.

Microsoft notes that such sites will need to be updated to accommodate IE 8.

The first public showing of IE 8 is scheduled for a new media conference in Las Vegas in early March.

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