Microsoft offers IE7 to all, pirates included

Microsoft has removed the the Windows Genuine Advantage validation requirement for installing Internet Explorer 7.

Users running pirated or counterfeit copies of Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 can now download Internet Explorer 7, Microsoft announced late last week.

From the moment it released IE7 almost a year ago, Microsoft has restricted the browser to users who can prove they own a legitimate copy of the operating system. Before Microsoft allows the browser to download, it runs the user's PC through a Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation test, a prime part of XP's antipiracy software.

When it instituted the requirement in 2006, Microsoft said rights to IE7 was one of the rewards for being legal. It changed its mind Thursday, saying the move is in users' best interest.

"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," said Steve Reynolds, an IE program manager in a posting to a Microsoft company 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 has consistently touted IE7 as a more secure browser, and post-launch patch counts back that up. In the past 11 months, IE6 for Windows XP SP2 has been patched for 22 vulnerabilities, 20 of them rated critical. IE7 for XP SP2, however, has been patched only 13 times; 10 of those fixes were ranked critical. In fact, when Microsoft announced that IE7 would not be offered to users running illegal copies of XP, some analysts questioned the company's commitment to security.

This is the first time that Microsoft has removed a WGA check for a major product. Among those that still require validation are Windows Defender, the company's antispyware software, and Windows Media Player 11.

Several people who left comments on Reynold's post wondered if there's more to the decision than meets the eye. "I am guessing that this is in reaction to Firefox's growing market share," said someone identified as Dileepa. "I am not surprised at this at all."

Mozilla's Firefox has gained some ground on Internet Explorer since IE7's launch. According to Net Applications, a Web metrics company, Firefox's share is up by about two percentage points since October 2006, while IE's total -- IE6 and IE7 combined -- slipped by more than three points.

IE7's uptake was dramatic late last year, when it went from about a 3 percent share in October to 18 percent in December, but growth has slowed. Since April, for instance, it has increased its share by four percentage points, almost all of it at the expense of the older IE6.

The IE7 update also sports a few tweaks: The menu bar is now visible by default, for example, and a new administration kit that includes a revamped MSI installer is available to smooth corporate deployment.

Users can download IE7 from Microsoft's site immediately or wait for it to appear in Windows Update as a high-priority item. It will take several months for Windows Update to roll out IE7 to all XP customers, and anyone dissatisfied with the new browser can downgrade to IE6 by using the Add/Remove Programs control panel applet.

A blocking tool kit is still available for companies and organizations that don't use Windows Server Update Services and want to permanently prevent IE7 from automatically installing on PCs equipped with IE6.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender solutions stop attacks before they even begin! Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?