espite fairly recent protestations
to the contrary, it seems as if Microsoft has had Internet Explorer 7 planned all along. At the RSA Conference 2005 in San Francisco this week, Bill Gates announced Tuesday that Microsoft would release a beta version of Internet Explorer 7 sometime this summer, a timetable too soon for the decision to have been a recent one. IE7 will be available only to Windows XP SP2 users; Microsoft has not committed to making the new IE version available to Windows 2000 or to unpatched XP (SP1 and earlier) installations, nor has it committed to an RTM date for the new browser version.
In his speech Gates focused on the new levels of security the new browser version will add to machines running XP SP2, but he didn't address any other concerns about the browser, such as whether the upgrade would improve PNG support, improve standards compliance, or add modern usability features such as tabbed browsing. In fact, Gates didn't provide any specifics at all. In a follow-up on Microsoft's IEBlog
, Dean Hachamovitch, Product Unit Manager for Internet Explorer said that the new version would help protect users against "phishing as well as deceptive or malicious software," and said that Microsoft does have a release date in mind, but wants to get feedback from the beta before committing to a release.
A call to Microsoft produced no further information about features that the new browser might include.
Longhorn Shedding Technologies
Until this announcement, Microsoft had discussed upgrading IE only when it delivers Longhorn, but over recent months Longhorn has jettisoned several bits and pieces. First Avalon and Indigo were split off for early delivery; later Microsoft announced that portions of the Longhorn file system, WinFS, would be held for late delivery.