Internet Explorer 7 Details Emerge

Although Microsoft has made no public statements, information about Internet Explorer 7 is slowly emerging. Microsoft Watch has indicated that the primary focus of the release will be on beefing up the browser's security, but other changes may include the addition of tabbed browsing and added standards support.

In a deviation from its original plans, Microsoft will ship IE7 independent from Longhorn and will make it available for customers running Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 and Windows XP Professional x64.

IE7, known internally as "Rincon," is expected to run in reduced privilege mode to lessen the impact of browser exploits. In the events that the browser's security safeguards are somehow overwhelmed, Microsoft is considering integration with its anti-spyware service for added protection, Microsoft Watch reported.

Other rumored improvements include a revamped Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) user interface and restrictions that prohibit cross-domain scripting.

By the time a public beta of IE7 reaches testers this summer, the browser could present substantial interface changes such as tabbed browsing, in which multiple Web pages are displayed within a single browser window. The Web pages that IE users view may also take on a different appearance, as Microsoft is wrestling with the idea of supporting some aspects of the CSS2 standard.

Additional standards that are candidates for IE7 inclusion are Portable Network Graphics (PNG) and internationalized domain names (IDN). Although, the safety of IDN has been called into question following reports that specially crafted URLs can be used to spoof legitimate Web sites.

Last month, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced a reversal of the company's longstanding plans to only ship an updated version of Internet Explorer with Longhorn. Gates acknowledged that IE had become a security risk, motivating Microsoft to protect its customers before the next release of Windows.

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