Program Manager Steve Reynolds announced the news on October 4 on Microsoft's IE Team blog:
"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. 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."
WGA is the anti-piracy mechanism Microsoft uses to check whether users are running "genuine" Windows before allowing them to download certain product updates, fixes, white papers and other related information.
Microsoft posted to its Download Center on October 4 refreshed versions of IE 7 for Windows XP Service Pack (SP)2, Windows 64 client/server, and Windows Server 2003 SP1/SP2. It also posted an update to IE 7 for Windows XP that resolves a phishing-filter problem with the browser.
Users interested in downloading the refreshed IE can get it from Microsoft's Internet Explorer home page or go thorugh a third-party site thatis authorized by Microsoft to deliver customized IE releases. Microsoft officials said they also have pushed the refresh out via Automatic Updates, but those already running IE 7 "will not be offered IE7 again" via this mechanism.
Other changes that are part of the IE 7 refresh:
- The menu bar is now visible by default
- The Internet Explorer 7 online tour has updated how-to’s and the “first-run” experience includes a new overview
- A new MSI installer that "simplifies deployment for IT administrators in enterprises," according to the Softies
Microsoft rolled out IE 7 last fall. Since then, the company has said next-to-nothing about its future plans for its Web browser.