We reported in December of last year that Microsoft's Internet Explorer team was hard at work on the eighth version of its browser, and that a beta would come some time in the first half of this year. The folks at IT Week have gotten hold of more details regarding the upcoming beta, and they say we can look forward to it soon.
Microsoft plans to release its first beta of Internet Explorer 8 "shortly." The beta will be geared to developers in particular, but it will reportedly be available to the "general public" nonetheless. IE8 will bring improved support for web standards, greater security, and more interface options. In an effort to improve standards compliance without breaking sites written with IE6 and IE7 in mind, Microsoft will supposedly allow developers to "stay in or out of the web standards mode."
Interestingly, IT Week also says the complete version of IE8 will also come out before the middle of the year. Its release should therefore closely follow that of Mozilla's Firefox 3, which should bring performance and user interface improvements as well as a slew of new features, including a unified repository for browser bookmarks and history. The latest beta of Firefox 3 came out earlier this month.