Microsoft has removed the Windows Genuine Advantage validation requirement to download Internet Explorer 7. The change came yesterday (Thursday), when the software giant changed its mind about IE7 from its being a “reward for being legal” to being “in users’ best interest.” Windows Update will be offering the upgrade as a high-priority update, or it can be downloaded immediately from Microsoft’s website.
I agree with analyst statements that this is probably a play for market share. Popularity of Mozilla Firefox has been increasing since IE7’s release, and much of the market gains of the new browser have been at the expense of its older brother, IE6, rather than other browsers like Firefox. I surmise that users dissatisfied with the new browser began investigating alternatives, not knowing IE could be downgraded by uninstalling the IE7 update. I personally know several people dissatisfied with IE7, and am in fact using IE6 myself (the few times I actually use IE, that is).
All I can say is, there must be some large motivator for this removal; it is the first time Microsoft has ever removed a WGA check for a major product; Windows Media Player 11 and, interestingly, the Windows Defender security tool still require validation. (If Microsoft is really committed to security, why not allow all Windows users to download Defender?) I plan to fight this and recruit more Firefox users than ever, to counteract the increased adoption that’s likely to take place as a result of this event. IE7 may be an improvement, but it still needs major work, and continually decreasing market share for IE7 might push them to innovate in the next major release.