While the Beta 2 release of its next browser is still a few days away, Microsoft on Monday unveiled a few of the privacy-related features that will grace Internet Explorer (IE) 8. Due in final form by the end of the year or early 2009, IE 9 will build off of the previous release, IE 7, and greatly expand on the product's security and functionality.

"When we began planning IE 8, we took a hard look at our customers' concerns about privacy on the Web," says Andy Zeigler, an IE program manager. "Many users are concerned about so-called 'over-the-shoulder privacy,' or the ability to control what their spouses, friends, kids, and co-workers might see."

To protect users' privacy, IE 8 will include a number of privacy-related features, including:

InPrivate Browsing. A special browsing mode in which IE 8 will not store history, cookies, temporary Internet files, or other data that could be used to track your online use. An InPrivate Browsing IE window will appear separately from the normal IE window and utilize visual cues, including an Address Bar badge, so you can tell which is which.

Delete Browsing History. First introduced in IE 7, the Delete Browsing History dialog in IE 8 has been improved to allow users to optionally preserve cookies and temporary Internet files only for those sites they explicitly trust (that is, sites for which they've manually created a Favorite).

InPrivate Blocking. Allows you to block third-party sites from receiving information about your browsing habits from the site you are currently visiting.

InPrivate Subscriptions. Related to InPrivate Blocking; allows you to subscribe to publicly-created subscription lists of trusted sites for which you will allow cross-site information sharing.

Microsoft's theme for the privacy and security functionality in IE 8 is that the browser will put the user in control of their data, both on the PC and on the Web. We'll know more soon when the Beta 2 version of the browser is publicly released. At that time, I'll have an exhaustive review available on the SuperSite for Windows.