Internet Explorer 8 will be released in the first half of 2008, according to Microsoft. The not-too-surprising revelation came as the IE blog announced the corporation had put IE8 through the Acid2 Browser Test.

This ensures that a browser can render a website as it should and supports the web standards that it needs. More imminently, it seems very much like a beta will be with us in the first few months of the New Year.

The development of IE8 has been tremendously swift compared to its predecessor. IE7 took five years to emerge and finally saw the light of day in 2006. Mind you, it's well documented that much of this gap was due to the reluctance of Microsoft to enhance IE6, which it foolishly thought was good enough. Firefox, however, made most of us see that better was indeed possible.

According to Microsoft-derived posts on the IE Blog, it seems Microsoft is prioritising web standard-support with the new browser. The user experience is also likely to be more customisable to appeal to the Firefox-loving crowd.