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Microsoft is hawking the near-ready version of its Internet Explorer 8 browser at its staff in a desperate attempt to snatch back some of Mozilla’s growing market share.

The company is asking its UK employees to take part in its very own astroturfing campaign by getting MS wonks to send out an email to at least ten soon to be ex-friends encouraging them to download the third beta of IE 8.

Microsoft flacks urged staff yesterday to pester their mates about the firm’s upcoming browser by requesting they send out what many will view as time-wasting spam.

The viral email starts off by suggesting that the sender of the message finds the world of computers, the interwebs and indeed life inside the Microsoft cage as simply irresistible.

"You know I work at Microsoft, and that I love technology," it reads. "Sometimes I love Microsoft technology so much that I can't wait to tell people about it, and this is one of those times. Microsoft has just released the Release Candidate 1 for Internet Explorer 8, and I think you should install it and use it today."

An El Reg reader contacted us after he received the email from a friend who works at Microsoft. "I guessed that it wasn't his handywork from the first few lines," he told us.

The third, and probably final, beta of IE 8 landed yesterday and includes a list of websites that Microsoft says actually work with its browser.

It comes loaded with two modes for viewing sites. The default mode supports the latest web standards such as CSS 2.1, to help satisfy EU regulators.

Meanwhile, its compatibility mode allows users to view the millions of sites and applications built back in the dark, US regulator-bothering days when older versions of Internet Explorer didn't comply with web standards. ®

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