Microsoft plans to launch a special test version of its latest Internet Explorer web browser, the company said Tuesday, boasting new features and better support for widely held Internet standards.

A beta version of Internet Explorer 8 will be released in the first half of 2008, one Microsoft developer disclosed today in an official company web-log.

The Redmond-Wash.-based software developer said that its new browser will sport better support for the programming language Ajax - a technique deployed across many Web-2.0 for dynamic web-pages.

Microsoft also promises that the latest iteration of its market leading web-browser will conform more closely to industry adopted standards. In December the product hit a major milestone after it passed the Acid2Face test, a suite of tests measuring the extent to which a browser conforms to a series of widely used HTML and other web standards.

Explorer 8 is just one of numerous products that Microsoft plans to release in the months ahead. On Wednesday, the company plans to formally launch Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 at an event in Los Angeles.

Later this year, Microsoft will release Small Business Server 2008. It's also planning to ship a public beta of its Silverlight 2 Web presentation technology in the coming weeks.