Microsoft is investigating a leak which has led to a beta release of its internet browser being made available for download on several websites.
The software giant said the beta version of Internet Explorer (IE) 6, which is due to be included in Whistler - the next version of Windows - had already been sent out to testers who have signed non disclosure agreements (NDAs). Whistler is expected to be launched officially in the second half of this year.
But the beta version of IE has now appeared for download on several software enthusiast sites, including The-Ctrl-Alt-Del.com, which posted a message late yesterday saying it had removed the software files "at the request of Microsoft".
A Microsoft spokeswoman said: "We are investigating the situation, but it is not something we would talk about publicly. We are interested to find out if the leak is external or internal."
"We would like to stress that this is a beta and not the final copy and there is no way of telling at this stage whether any of the features will be in the final release. There will be future announcements concerning IE 6, but we wouldn't comment further at the moment," she added.
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