Microsoft Responds To IE Security Concerns

Full text of a letter from Microsoft, in response to coverage of companies moving from IE to Firefox and other alternative browsers.
Editor's note: the following is the full text of Microsoft's response to an poll and related story regarding Internet Explorer, and whether companies are switching to the Mozilla browser. It came from Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft's public-relations agency.

You mentioned that many or the respondents in the self-selecting survey recommended against IE and that many people have said Microsoft needs to address security issues more fully.

Regarding the recommendation, we're aware that some people have recommended against IE, but we also know that hundreds of millions of users use Windows because of its broad ecosystem of applications that are constantly being tested and implemented, and this ecosystem demonstrates the rich choice out there for customers.

When we talk to our consumer customers about browsers, they tell us they're interested in ease of use, reliability and compatibility -- does their browser work with the sites they visit? Does it provide an easy user experience? With IE supported by the vast majority of Web sites, consumers can be confident that their browsing experience with IE is supported and optimal. Our enterprise customers ask us to make sure that the browser provides a solid platform for application development and solutions, and therefore, IE is the choice of many thousands of enterprise customers. Of critical importance to these customers is the fact that Microsoft exhaustively tests all new updates to IE (security and otherwise) to ensure that applications and Web sites continue to behave as expected. All of this, combined with Microsoft's enterprise and consumer customer support, continue to make Internet Explorer a compelling choice for consumers and enterprise customers. You also asked about security and IE and said that some respondents don't believe IE has been updated for some time. With the recent security improvements introduced by Windows XP Service Pack 2, IE is a much improved browsing option for customers who want to experience the richness of the Internet. SP2 includes a major upgrade to Internet Explorer focused solely on security enhancements. It is architected to help protect against malicious attacks and reduce unwanted content and downloads, including spyware. We encourage all customers to upgrade to Windows XP SP2 to get the most secure version of IE.

As long as malicious hackers exist, there is always an opportunity for online threats and no browser is immune to this. We will continue to work to improve security for our customers by working on technical innovation, improving updates, and working with law-enforcement agencies worldwide to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. The specific vulnerabilities that have been exploited in Internet Explorer in the past may not exist in other browsers, but other browsers have their own vulnerabilities as well. The key question is around the ability to react to such threats--working with authorities and providing updates that, in addition to securing customers, ensure strong compatibility with existing applications.

In addition to the improvements that SP2 brought to IE, a vibrant ecosystem involving hundreds of partners and independent software vendors continues to develop on the IE platform. The applications they are building deliver some of the most popular browser features and add-ons for customers to download and enjoy today.

These range from complete browsers with tabbed browsing built on the Internet Explorer platform, to toolbars, RSS and blogging tools, search functions, parental controls and many others. With over 900 extensions available currently, customers can customize IE to meet their specific needs and interests. We feel that this ecosystem demonstrates that Internet Explorer is an extensible and reliable platform for experimentation. Visit this Web page to learn more about the hundreds of add-ons that this community has created. In addition to these extensions, customers have built thousands of line-of-business applications on IE. Because of IE's extensibility, developers can build applications which provide rich functionality combined with the ease of use of the browser. Finally, you asked about Microsoft's plans for the next version of IE. The IE team is in the process of developing the browser for Longhorn, the next version of Windows. It's too early to provide a list of specific features, but major investments are being made in the areas of end user features, security and privacy, and developer support (for both add-on and Web-site developers).

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