Microsoft has said the next pre-release Internet Explorer (IE) 7 for Windows XP browser has been pushed into early next year.

According to a posting on IEBlog, the Microsoft blog for its IE team, the company will post "an updated pre-release build of IE 7 for Windows XP publicly - no MSDN membership required - during the first calendar quarter of 2006." The posting was written by Dean Hachamovitch, product line manager for IE at Microsoft.

Hachamovitch said that the IE team has had numerous requests for another build of IE 7 for Windows XP, and has a new build available now for users of the internal Microsoft corporate network.

The company is planning the upcoming public preview because "we want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to try a pre-release version of IE 7 and tell us how it works with their websites, their applications, their add-ons and how they use the web overall," he wrote.

Microsoft released the first pre-release of IE 7 for XP, a beta version, along with the first beta of Windows Vista in July. Windows Vista is the next version of the Windows client OS; it is expected to be generally available toward the end of 2006.

Microsoft has said in published reports that it planned to have second betas of both Windows Vista and IE 7 before the end of the year. However, last week Amitabh Srivastava, corporate vice president of the Windows Core Operating System Development division, said that another beta of Windows Vista would not be available until early 2006.

On Wednesday John Hipsher, a spokesman for Microsoft said that the company had not previously specified a time frame for another IE 7 for XP pre-release. He would not clarify if the next pre-release build of IE 7 for XP mentioned on the IEBlog is another beta release, saying only via e-mail that it is an "updated, or refreshed, version of the IE 7 for Windows XP beta 1 code that was delivered in July."

Microsoft has said it plans to release IE 7 for XP before the release of Windows Vista, which also will ship with IE 7.