The release candidate of Internet Explorer 9 is expected be launched within a fortnight.
Microsoft has reportedly sent out invites to press in the US, asking them to attend an Internet Explorer event on 10 February in San Francisco. The invite claims the company will "share some important news" about the browser, which is currently in beta.
Internet Explorer 9 could be a pivotal release for Microsoft. The Microsoft browser has been bleeding market share to rivals for a number of years: in January 2009 Internet Explorer boasted a worldwide market share of 70 percent, according to Net Applications; last month that share had fallen to 57 percent.
Whereas Firefox used to be Microsoft's main threat, Google Chrome has now emerged as the most serious threat to Internet Explorer's crown. Although still a distant third in the browser wars, Chrome's market share has doubled over the past year to 10 percent.
Perhaps wary of the emerging threat, Internet Explorer 9 has adopted a Chrome-like, Spartan interface, while Microsoft is using hardware acceleration to boost the browser's performance.
Internet Explorer 9 could beat Firefox 4 to release candidate status. The Mozilla browser is currently in its tenth beta, and is expected to make release candidate in the next fortnight.