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Here's what's in IE6 build 2403

Tighter integration with Microsoft services and software

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Early test version of Microsoft's upcoming Internet Explorer 6 browser have been posted onto the Internet.

The 'beta' version of the browser was posted onto software developer and enthusiast sites The-Ctrl-Alt-Del.com and FileClicks, before Microsoft stepped in and got the content pulled.

Downloads are no longer available but you can see screenshots of IE6 beta here.

The version of the browser leaked to the sites was Internet Explorer 6.0 beta 2403, which was found only to work on Windows 2000 machines, and not PCs running Windows 9x-based operating systems.

Many of the features of the browser evident from the screenshots, show that Microsoft is tying Internet Explorer closer to its other Internet-based software and Web sites. For example the browser includes a series of icons linking to Microsoft media software and properties, such as Windows Media Player. A search engine links directly to Microsoft's travel site, Expedia.com.

The IE6 beta allows surfers to display more than one Explorer Bar, whose appearance is now customisable, at once. Another interesting feature is that with the browser, a menu appears when a mouse rolls over an image allowing a user to print, email it or open it in image-editing programs.

Much of this tighter integration between the browser and other Microsoft programs and services seems to fly in the face of the anti-trust judgement against Microsoft. In fact the level of integration with Whistler evident in this build is evidence that's its business-as-usual in Redmond's software development labs. We'll have to wait for a public beta of the browser, due soon, and the outcome of the anti-trust case, due God knows when, before we can make a call on this one.

Cnet reports that The-Ctrl-Alt-Del.com pulled the files when it discovered Microsoft was investigating the leak, which likely came from a limited number of software developers, all of whom have signed non-disclosure agreements when they received the software in November. In the few hours when the software was available, traffic to The-Ctrl-Alt-Del.com rocketed and it's reported that the site's hosting provider was about to intervene to get the browser pulled anyway. ®

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