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After a year and a half of promises,


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has finally gotten its browser act together and taken it on the Web.

As of late Wednesday, the final version of Internet Explorer 7, Microsoft's new Web browser, can now be downloaded from the software giant's Web site.

With the new product release, the Redmond, Wash.-based company's browser becomes more competitive with products such as Opera and



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The five years between official releases (IE6 in 2001) has cost the company market share. According to a published report, Internet Explorer's U.S. market share is about 86%; two years earlier, IE cornered roughly 93% of the market.

IE7's new features include tabbed browsing, which enables users to open several Web pages without opening multiple browser windows, and protection against malicious software and phishing attacks.

Microsoft said it will begin distributing IE 7 as an update in November.

Earlier Wednesday,



offered its own "optimized" version of IE 7, which sets the company as the default search engine as well as the home page.

Shares of Microsoft closed the regular session up 8 cents to $28.52; Yahoo! shares sank $1.16 to $22.99.