The browser wars appear to be entering a new phase with Microsoft's next version of Internet Explorer close to a beta release and Firefox being scrutinised more closely.
As reported in ComputerWeekly, Microsoft could be planning to release a beta version of IE 7 for Windows XP as early as next March. It's unclear if the final version of IE 7 will be available on XP prior to the launch of Vista, Microsoft's next generation OS, but the prelease on to XP is to test some of the new security features and functionality Microsoft has developed.
Without wanting to sound overly skeptical wasn't Vista meant to have been released already and the trumpetted feature set of tabbed browsing, anti-phishing and anti-spyware features have been available in alternative browsers for some time now? Meanwhile web developers, designers and the WC3 will be hoping that Microsoft has fixed IE's standards compliance problems.
Interestingly a security threat to Firefox 1.5, which was only released last week, has also been found. The flaw, found by the SANS Institute’s Internet Storm Centre, affects the browsers history file (history.dat) and causes the browser to continuously crash once infected. The institute did say that the flaw could be used to run malicious code, but there has been no evidence of this as yet. In the unlikely event that users are infected the history.dat file needs to be manually deleted.
Depending on the source Firefox has around a 10% share of the browser market, IE 85% with Safari on 2% and the rest making up the numbers. Firefox's advances had been waning after it's initial launch but are said to be on the up again after another marketing push since the release of 1.5.