Reports are again circling once again around a crucial Microsoft product delivery milestone that, if accurate, signals the imminent arrival of Internet Explorer 8.
Malaysian tech enthusiast site TechArp is reporting Thursday that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) plans to release Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) to manufacturing the week of March 16. In Microsoft parlance, "release to manufacturing," or RTM, is the final step before a product actually ships.
With the latest version of its browser, Microsoft is aiming to try to retake some of the market share IE has lost in the past three years, since Mozilla Firefox and other competitive browsers have been challenging its dominance. It also tries to satisfy the European Commission (EC) by defaulting to using Web standards, thus making it easier for other browser makers to compete.
Earlier this week, InternetNews.com reported that two blogging sites found that a post-beta build of Windows 7 allowed them to disable IE8. The EC has indicated it will ask Microsoft to bundle competing browsers to ship on Windows computers in the European Union -- if it upholds its own "statement of objections, also in January, claiming Microsoft illegally tied IE to Windows going back to 1996.
TechArp has a fairly consistent record of getting its hands on Microsoft documentation and scheduling information. For instance, TechArp correctly pegged release dates for Windows Server 2008 SP1 and Windows Vista SP1 last year at this time.
"Microsoft will RTM Internet Explorer 8 in the week of March 16, 2009. The specific RTM date for the Internet Explorer 8 will be announced the week of March 9, 2009," a post on TechArp said Thursday.
Microsoft, however, disputed the claims.
"We have not announced final timing for IE8," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.
"Our timeline is driven by the quality of the product. Microsoft is deliberate in our approach to releasing new products and we feel a strong obligation to our customers to do so in a responsible manner that ensures they are getting the safest, most reliable product possible," the spokesperson added.
Microsoft started distributing the first "release candidate," or RC -- the last testing step before RTM -- on January 26.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.