Microsoft Corp. said its next-generation Internet Explorer 7 browser will feature more sophisticated and effective tools for clearing the application's memory of Web usage data.
In a posting to the company's IE 7 blog site, Microsoft Program Manager Uche Enuha reported that the new software will offer a "Delete Browsing History" feature that will allow users to more easily delete information regarding what sites they visit online.
Whereas previous versions of IE forced people to execute several different functions in order to fully wipe out their browser memory, Enuha's report said the new system will greatly simplify that process.
IE 7 is slated to reach the market sometime before the end of 2006 as part of Microsoft's launch of its new Windows operating system, dubbed Vista.
In addition to erasing the list of the sites that have been visited using IE 7, the software will also streamline the manner in which people can erase other types of information that can be stored in their browsers, such as passwords, temporary files, online form data and even cookies, or information saved to a PC's hard disk by certain websites.
The tool even offers a "delete all" option to wipe out all the browser-based data at once.
"Back in IE 6, you would have to spend a lot of time looking through various places on your computer to get rid of all the relevant information and possibly still miss some critical information," Enuha wrote. "Now with the [delete] feature, we are giving every person the ability to clear all their browsing information from one location with a click of a button."
The news will likely sit well with privacy advocates who have long criticized the amount of personal information that can be stored in Explorer without users' knowledge, and the amount of legwork needed to effectively remove such information.
The tool will feature administrative controls that will allow companies to limit the extent to which people can delete their information, however.
As part of the history-scrubbing feature, IE 7 also adds an automated progress system that will allow users to cleanse the browser while it is still being used, or after it has been shut down, Enuha said.
This will make it so that people will not be forced to wait to use their computers, or sit at their desks while the browser erases selected data.
Last week, Microsoft confirmed that a new security update for Explorer had caused some users of the beta version of IE 7 to experience strange behaviour from the browser. The symptoms affected people who had downloaded the beta and run it alongside IE 6, and included web page hangs, blank pages and the opening of multiple new windows without any request to do so, the company said on its blog site.
Microsoft said people could solve the problem by deleting a specific key in its Windows Registry.
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