Microsoft is making its Internet Explorer 7 browser available to all Windows XP users—even those using pirated software—and installation will no longer require that the operating system first be validated as genuine.
The company said the move is about security and ecosystem safety, because if even one user in a network is not using the security enhancements provided in IE 7, that user places the entire network at risk.
To read about why some customers still want Windows XP, click here.
"Microsoft takes its commitment to help protect the entire Windows ecosystem seriously, and were taking a step to help make consumers safer online. We feel the security enhancements to Internet Explorer 7 are significant enough that it should be available as broadly as possible, and this means making it available to all users of IE 7-compatible Windows operating systems," Steve Reynolds, program manager for Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., told eWEEK.
"With todays Installation and Availability Update, IE 7 installation will no longer require Windows Genuine Advantage validation, and will be available to all Windows XP users," he said.
The update is available beginning Oct. 4 for Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP 64-Bit Edition and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 users.
The update also comes hot on the heels of the news that Microsoft has allowed its OEM and retail partners to offer Windows XP for an additional five months, until June 30, 2008, after receiving complaints that customers are not ready to switch to Vista.
Microsoft has also made some changes to IE 7 for Windows XP that Reynolds said were requested by customers. The menu bar is now visible by default; the how-to section of the IE 7 online tour has been updated; and when the browser is first opened, users will be presented with a new overview.
Read more here about the release of Internet Explorer 7.
"Weve also included a new MSI installer that simplifies deployment for IT administrators in enterprises," Reynolds said. The download and release information for the Internet Explorer 7 Administration Kit can be found here.
Reynolds also claimed in a blog posting that the browser, which was released in October 2006, "is well on its way to becoming the most used browser in the world, and weve seen lots of evidence that IE 7 makes it safer and easier to accomplish everyday tasks online."
As evidence, he said the built-in phishing filter has protected consumers from known phishing Web sites an average of 900,000 times a week, and that it is also the "first and still the only browser with native support for extended validation SSL [Secure Sockets Layer] certificates, which help prevent online fraud."
At the time of IE 7s initial release, Gary Schare, director of Windows product management, told eWEEK that the most significant new features in the browser were the many security improvements, tab browsing, and the inclusion of RSS discovery and subscription along with a platform to make that data available to any application that wants to use it.
Read more here about why security remains a challenge for browser developers.
However, in spite of all the security enhancements, a number of critical browser vulnerabilities have been found since IE 7s release.
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