In a bid to reclaim market share eroded by the growth of alternative web browsers like Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome, Microsoft launches Internet Explorer 8. Yesterday’s launch marks the end of a year long public beta test phase.New features in the latest update to the venerable browser are aimed squarely at users of the other browsers. Microsoft claims the new browser offers improved security features (a long-lamented short-coming of Internet Explorer), an easier to use design, and speed improvements. Among key improvements to IE8 is the introduction of web ‘accelerators.’ This feature allows users to right-click on highlighted text or links and then either connect directly to a map, use the text to start a blog entry, or enter the selected text as a search term.It remains to be seen what impact, if any, the release of the new operating system will have on potentially shoring up the decline of Microsoft’s market share in the browser market. Many users who have moved to other browsers may not head the launch of IE8, and simply continue to use one of the freely-available alternatives. The biggest impact on the browser market that Internet Explorer is likely to have will be on how competing companies plan the release of updates and new features for their products. Google Chrome has already announced that a developer’s beta version of Chrome 2.0 is available for download. Mozilla has also announced the availability of Firefox 3.1 beta 3 for download. While the release of Internet Explorer 8 represents a significant improvement and Microsoft’s browser has caught up with features available from the others. Even so, the true test of Microsoft’s latest salvo in the browser wars will be whether or not IE8 is overshadowed by updates published by popular competitors.