Asked about the competitive threat posed by Firefox, Schare said it does not come up much when talking to enterprise customers as there is a distinction between what they might use personally and what is their corporate standard. Is IE more secure than Firefox? Click here to read more.IE 7 is also the browser built into Windows Vista, which appeals to enterprises because it will allow them to have a common browser environment across their XP and Vista desktops, he said. Click here to read more about the dramatic changes likely in the overall browser market. Some customers like VeriSign are upbeat about the new browser and the security advances it brings. "We believe that Microsofts new Internet Explorer 7 browser will help increase user confidence and make consumers more secure when using the Internet. We encourage users to move to the new browser," said Tim Callan, VeriSigns product marketing director. Asked what would make the browser experience better in Vista, Schare said that, for the consumer market, parental controls, which is also a platform feature so any piece of software that talks over a network will get the added safety of those parental controls. For enterprises, the most important difference is the protected-mode feature, which is built on the new user account mechanism in Windows Vista. That effectively lets Internet Explorer run with an even lower permission than a standard user. "Its effectively like a sandbox around the browser and is a nice security feature that is protecting against future unknown vulnerabilities. Having IE 7 available for XP helps prepare users for Vista and all the great new features it brings," he said. Microsoft says the IE experience will be more robust in Vista than for XP. Click here to read more. Microsoft has released six betas, or public builds, of IE 7 for XP, five of which were this year, allowing IT professionals, developers and others to test with it, which has helped improve the compatibility story, Schare said. Financial services companies such as PayPal and Visa are also interested in protecting their customers from phishing and so will be urging their customers to upgrade. "Security is a top priority for PayPal, and we encourage our customers using Windows to download and use Internet Explorer 7, which has significant security enhancements, including features that help customers protect their personal information when browsing, communicating and transacting online," Michael Barrett, PayPals chief information security officer, said. Companies like Yahoo have also built customized versions of IE 7 optimized for their use. "Yahoo has been doing this since Beta 3, and it will look like IE 7 to the user. This, too, is a strong endorsement of the platform," Schare said. The most significant new features in IE 7 include the many security improvements, tab browsing, and the inclusion of RSS discovery and subscription, as well as a platform to make that data available to any application that wants to use it. "The sky is the limit as to what developers can dream up to take advantage of that RSS platform," he said. Read more here about exploit code that was recently published for an unpatched IE vulnerability. There are also a number of features in IE 7 that make it easier for enterprises to deploy the browser, including enhanced group policy support, as well as the updated Internet Explorer administration kit that allows enterprises to build a customized version of the browser for their desktops, Schare said. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
"The typical Firefox user tends to be a technology enthusiast, but, with most every company that we work with, Internet Explorer remains the standard because of the features that got it there in the first place," he said. "They have developed their line-of-business applications on top of it, and they have trained their users on how to use it."