Microsoft will soon release a public beta of its upcoming cookie management update for Internet Explorer (IE) 5.5. Designed to give end users better control over the cookies they receive, the update will also relieve the pressure Microsoft receives from privacy advocates around the world.

Currently in technical beta to a limited group of testers, the new update will add three enhancements not currently available to users of IE. The update will add new help topics to IE's support material as well as new top level items on the help menu. The new menu entries will offer easier access to privacy and security sections of the online documentation.

In addition, the Internet Options dialog (available from the Tools menu) will receive a new button entitled "Delete All Cookies." The buttom will serve users that want no cookies left on their systems. But perhaps the most interesting feature will be new warning dialogs that will appear any time an attempt is made to read or write a cookie on the user's machine. The new dialogs will inform the user if a cookie is from a site other than the site they are actually visiting. Offsite cookies, commonly referred to as third-party cookies, are most often used to track a user's Web surfing habits.

According to Microsoft, a public beta of the cookie management update will become available by the end of August on the company's Internet Explorer Web site.

In an interview with a Reuter's news reporter, Ed Black, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, said even with the update installed Microsoft will be able to have its own cookies set without notice to the user