Internet Explorer 7 Now Available to Pirates
Microsoft has released a minor update to Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP, removing the requirement for users to be validated through the company's Windows Genuine Advantage program. This means those with non-legitimate or pirated copies of Windows can now upgrade their browser.
IE7 was released to the public nearly a year ago, but has yet to overtake its predecessor as the most used Web browser. The removal of the WGA requirement is sure to boost install numbers over IE6, and -- as Microsoft notes -- in turn protect more users from security threats on the Web.
Although it continues to update IE6 for Windows XP with security fixes, the aging operating system is nearing the end of its mainstream support. In addition, IE7 includes a phishing filter that Microsoft says protects consumers at a rate of 900,000 times per week, along with native support for Extended Validation SSL Certificates to prevent fraud.
While the carrot-and-stick approach with WGA has been used to reduce piracy and catch unscrupulous resellers, Microsoft likely decided that those willing to validate their OS in order to upgrade to IE7 would have already done so in the past year, and those that have not would never do so.
Microsoft has made a number of minor changes to IE7 for Windows XP users as well. The menu bar is now enabled by default, and the "first run" experience and product tour have been expanded. An MSI installation is also now available to IT administrators.
Windows XP users can download the new IE7 release via FileForum, or wait for it to be delivered via Automatic Updates.