Microsoft Corp. has released its latest edition of its Internet Explorer Web browser touting its new security features on Thursday, after almost a year of public beta testing.

The new release from Microsoft offers security enhancements, blocking two to four times more malware attacks than other browsers, and speeds search, mapping and sharing, the company said.

IE8 will run on computers with Windows Vista as well as Windows XP, the browser, featured in 25 languages, will also become part of Windows 7, Microsoft’s yet to be released operating system.

The released could kick off a new round of browser wars, as other firms offering Web browsers have revved up their efforts recently.

The release comes as Microsoft has been steadily losing market share to rival browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Google Chrome.

Internet Explorer claimed over 90% of the browser market in 2004, and ended 2008 with about 70%, according to Net Applications.

Meanwhile, Google has just unveiled a new beta of Google Chrome, which it claims in a blog is almost twice as fast as the original beta.