IE 8 to include private browsing feature

The next version of Explorer will allow you to control whether the browser automatically saves your browsing history, cookies, and other data.

As CNET News first reported last week, Internet Explorer 8 will include a way to surf somewhat anonymously, allowing the user to suspend browsing history, cookies, and other identifying information. Mozilla had considered such a feature for its Firefox 3 release, but dropped it for technical reasons. Apple Safari also includes a similar feature.

Known as InPrivate, Microsoft is touting the feature as one of several security enhancements within its next major browser release. The scenarios for using InPrivate include when you're using someone else's computer, when you need to buy a gift for a loved one without ruining the surprise, or when you're at an Internet kiosk and don't want the next person to know which Web site you visited. While you can currently clear the browser cache with a mouse click, it's an all-or-nothing action. InPrivate temporarily suspends the automatic caching functions, allowing you to keep the rest of your browsing history intact.

ZDNet columnist Mary Jo Foley calls InPrivate IE's "porn mode."

The IE development team at Microsoft has more details about InPrivate here. They've even produced a video.

InPrivate will be available in IE8 Beta 2, which is expected to be released sometime before the end of the month. Final release for the browser remains scheduled for November.

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