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10/5/2007
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Microsoft's Explorer Update Ditches Windows Genuine Advantage

Microsoft's IE 7 developers said they dropped the security feature to promote the browser to a wider audience.

Microsoft has released an updated version of Internet Explorer 7 that dispenses with a cumbersome security feature designed to ensure users are running the Web browser atop legitimate copies of the Windows operating system.

In a note posted Thursday on the Explorer development team blog, Microsoft programmers said the decision to drop Windows Genuine Advantage, as the security feature is known, from Explorer was made to promote the browser to a wider audience.

"We're updating the IE 7 installation experience to make it available as broadly as possible to all Windows users," said Explorer program manager Steve Reynolds in a blog post.

Flaws in Windows Genuine Advantage have reportedly resulted in millions of Windows users erroneously being reported to Microsoft as software pirates. A Chinese student has gone so far as to sue Microsoft over the issue.

The update, available as a download, also includes a number of other enhancements to Internet Explorer 7. The menu bar is now visible by default, the online help section has been enhanced, and a new tool is included to help IT administrators in large enterprises deploy the browser.

Microsoft is clearly hoping the update will boost adoption of IE 7, which debuted last year for Windows XP and was updated in January for Windows Vista. Despite the releases, Explorer's market share has declined slightly over the past year as competition emerges from Firefox, Safari, Opera, and other alternative browsers.

Explorer's market share fell from 81.3% of the market in October 2006 to 77.9% in September 2007, according to market watchers at Net Applications.

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