Internet-ExplorerMicrosoft on Tuesday released a second preview of its Internet Explorer 10 browser, which will give developers a chance to test out new features and technologies related to IE10. The new browser is expected to launch officially next year when Windows 8 is released.

Internet Explorer has been losing market share for years, first to Mozilla’s Firefox and now to both Firefox and Google’s Chrome. With the release of Internet Explorer 9, it appeared Microsoft recognized this problem by adding new features and pushing better performance to keep users from leaving. With Internet Explorer 10, Microsoft probably hopes to keep users from leaving and to win some back as well.

The second preview of IE10, which comes 11 weeks after the first preview was launched, has lots of new features and background elements that enhance performance. It specifically includes “support for major platform features like HTML5 Parser, HTML5 Sandbox, Web Workers, HTML5 Forms, Media Query Listeners and more,” according to Microsoft’s release notes.

Arguably the biggest enhancement is support for the Web Worker API, which lets developers take advantage of things like multi-core processors when they work with JavaScript. Basically, when a website is rendering images or something complex, IE10 will take advantage of hardware to make the site load more smoothly or even run scripts that are more complicated than ever before.

IE10’s second preview also outpaces the first preview’s HTML5 performance on The second preview scored a 231 while the first preview had a 125. Both of those scores, however, are easily beaten by Firefox 5’s 296 and Chrome 12’s 327. At the very least, IE10 is a step in the right direction.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next with this browser. While I prefer Chrome 12 and Firefox 5 any day to Internet Explorer 9, I love the idea of using hardware acceleration to boost what you can get out of the web. The best part of the browser wars is that even if some company clearly loses, the resulting technology improvements from the fierce competition end up helping all of us.