In an e-mail seen by CNET News.com, the Internet Explorer team called a recent test, or "beta" version of IE 6 "what we expect to be the final build for the Internet Explorer 6 release." The e-mail, to beta testers, requested final comments and suggestions by Aug. 7.
Microsoft declined to comment on the e-mail, which was first reported by Beta News. The company also declined to comment on purported leaks of the final IE 6 build, along with leaks of Microsoft's Windows Messenger and Windows Media Player, on the Maximum Reboot Web site.
The company reiterated its previous announcements that IE 6 will be released before the launch of Windows XP, which is officially scheduled for Oct. 25, but declined to specify when. (XP may start trickling out through PC manufacturers as soon as one month earlier than that.)
In the IE 6 e-mail, Microsoft touted the upcoming browser as a big improvement over its currently available IE 5 release, from stability to support for World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards.
"Internet Explorer 6 sets a new level in terms of stability and robustness, providing a quantitative improvement from Internet Explorer 5.0," the e-mail reads. "Also, Internet Explorer 6 provides a high level of support for W3C recommendations, ranging from base technologies, such as CSS and DOM, to brand-new ones such as SMIL 2.0."
The e-mail also outlines IE 6's implementation of the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P), a W3C working draft that helps people determine how much of their personal information is accessible to Web sites they visit.
IE 6's P3P support has elicited criticism from privacy advocates who deem it insufficient. It has also raised concerns among Web advertisers, which are running out of time before they have to assemble P3P-compliant privacy policies that IE 6 users can read.
Beta leaks are nothing new to Microsoft, or even to IE 6. Leaks of early beta versions appeared on the Web in January.