Microsoft makes its IE7 browser available to a wider audience

In a surprise move, Microsoft has issued a new build of Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) to customers that can be installed on any machine running Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 -- IE7 is already included in Windows Vista operating systems.

IE7 was previously reserved for customers using genuine copies of Windows-based operating systems and was protected by Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation software.

"Because Microsoft takes its commitment to help protect the entire Windows ecosystem seriously, we’re updating the IE7 installation experience to make it available as broadly as possible to all Windows users," remarked IE7 program manager Steve Reynolds on the IE Blog. "With today’s 'Installation and Availability Update,' Internet Explorer 7 installation will no longer require Windows Genuine Advantage validation and will be available to all Windows XP users."

Microsoft is likely using this move to makes IE7 available to the broadest range of customers worldwide. Mozilla's Firefox browser has gained a lot of traction recently, and this move would give Microsoft some additional ammunition.

In addition to the removal of WGA, the latest version of IE7 brings updates to the menu bar, online tour and a new MSI installer for IT administrators.

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs
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