The update for Internet Explorer 5.5 will also let people designate preferences about accepting different types of cookies, or electronic tags, which can often be helpful for delivering personalized services such as Web-based email.
In late July, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft introduced a test version of the patch to a small group of customers shortly after IE 5.5 debuted.
The update comes as Internet privacy concerns are increasing. While federal agencies and lawmakers grapple with privacy standards for Internet businesses, many sites have taken steps recently to improve their public image as fears have grown about online profiling practices.
"This tool helps consumers understand who's setting a cookie, how it will be used, and what the cookie contains," said Richard Purcell, director of corporate privacy at Microsoft.
"This gives control back to our customers--many who have just realized they are being tracked when they're surfing the Web--and now they'll be able to decide who sends them a cookie and when," he said.
By installing the software, consumers automatically get the newest browser, Purcell said. After it is installed, IE 5.5 users can find the privacy and security tools under the Tools section at the top of the browser.