It has 85% of the market share not by popular choice but because of its packaging with the Operating System by Microsoft. That is perhaps the reason why Microsoft never bothered to update IE in the last 5+ years. Five years is an eternity in the the fast changing IT world and could sound the death bell for any product. But not for IE as it comes bundled with the ubiquitous Windows Operating System.
Finally, IE is getting a major facelift with expected release of IE 7.0 this summer. Microsoft released a beta version recently and the first look is promising. It has caught up with Firefox and added some. It has some new security features and warns about possible threats.
This new version of IE did an interesting thing during installation. Before it would install, IE wanted to verify if the OS is genuine. It would only install after th verification of OS. I wonder what Microsoft is upto with this one. Are they not going to allow IE7.0 to install on pirated OS?
IE folks must have liked the opensource Firefox a lot as they have copied most of its functionality.
Cleaner Look: The newer version has a better look and feel. It now has smaller icons and the mosaic looks uncluttered.
Tabbed Browsing: Finally IE also has tabbed browsing. Here, IE has bettered tabbed browsing with an option to remember the tabs while closing and reopening them when the browser is opened again. I initially couldn't find the close button for shutting the individual tabs but later figured it out. It was not intutive like Firefox.
Security: IE 7.0 has some new provisions to provide phising alerts, pop-up blocker and stuff. Initially, it kept blocking even the normal stuff, which was annoying. But later I learnt how to stop that.
One thing I did not see is the quickfill function, which is very handy in Firefox.
Also, there seems to be some compatability issue between IE 6.0 and 7.0. Some sites that worked well with IE 6.0 had problems with IE 7.0. This may have to do with IE 6.0 specific extensions not carried over to 7.0.
Overall, IE 7.0 beta looks promising but I am not switching from Firefox. I now use IE only if I have to.