By Kim Yoo-chul
Microsoft is trying to bolster its dominance with the new Internet Explorer browser.
The American multinational recently released a near-final "release candidate" version of Internet Explorer 8 ― the next version of its Web browser.
The global Internet leader is hoping to resuscitate its growth by adding features such as private browsing, improved security, and a new type of add-on, called accelerators.
For new security features, MS is adding a cross-site scripting filter, as well as protections against a type of attack known as click-jacking.
"The final version will be released in the first half of this year," said Ahn Ja-hyun, a spokeswoman of MS Korea, Tuesday.
"We hope IE 8 will further vitalize the web browsing market," she added.
MS suffered from another setback on its corporate strategy as the European Commission has recently charged MS with illegally tying the Internet Explorer browser to the Windows operating system.
The commission said product innovation and consumer choice may be harmed by the MS move.
According to research firm Net Applications, MS's Internet Explorer browser registered a 68 percent market share in December, compared with a nearly 74 percent share from May.
In Europe, Internet Explorer accounted for a below-60 percent market share.
However, the Internet company's dominance is expected to continue in the Korean market.
"The growing popularity of the open-source Firefox browser offered by the Mozilla Foundation and Google's release last year of its own browser, called Chrome, have failed to make a dent on the MS domination in Korea," an industry watcher said.
The market share of Internet Explorer here hovered around 95 percent as of December.
Browsers are strategically important pieces of technology, which could be used by companies such as Google and MS to foster the use of their own respective Internet services and applications.
MS officials said more localized services are "possible," in addition to the functions of accelerators, web slices, enhanced instant search boxes and smart address bars.
MS is also widening its tie-ups with Korean firms. MS forged with Samsung Electronics a strategic tie-up on mobile phones.
Under the partnership, the world's No. 2 handset producer is making all-out marketing efforts to promote Windows Mobile-equipped Omnia smart phones.
"Internet Explorer is generally the preferred Web-browsing tool for office and residential use," a Samsung spokesman said.