Public beta of IE7 is close

Windows XP users may get the chance to try out the new features in IE7 early next year
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Microsoft is planning to make a beta of Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP available to the general public within the next four months.

Dean Hachomovitch, general manager of Microsoft's Internet Explorer team, said in a posting on Microsoft's IE blog this week that his team will post an updated pre-release build of IE7 for Windows XP publicly before the end of March 2006.

"We want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to try a pre-release version of IE7 and tell us how it works with their Web sites, their applications, their add-ons, and how they use the Web overall," said Hachomovitch.

At present, only Microsoft staff and specifically chosen beta testers can get their hands on the latest pre-release version.

The first beta of IE7 was launched in July. It is expected to include several changes, including tighter security and tabbed browsing.

A later blog posting outlined how Microsoft is changing the way Internet Explorer handles 'security zones'. These zones are used to set security levels depending on the perceived trustworthiness of a Web site. Microsoft is concerned that these zones can be abused by malicious hackers if they can trick IE into treating a dangerous site as if it were trustworthy.

"We realised that the intranet zone — and its lower restrictions — is not relevant at all to the typical home user running IE. One of our interns this summer, Robert Liao, changed IE’s logic so that a Windows machine that is not on a managed corporate network will treat apparent Intranet sites as Internet. This change effectively removes the attack surface of the intranet zone for home PC use," said Microsoft.

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