[webwithout-ie] Fw: Reversal: Next IE update divorced from Windows

  • From: "david poehlman" <david.poehlman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <webwithout-ie@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 13:16:21 -0500

This is long but at least parts of it are worth reading for us especialy 
since it seems that Microsoft are becoming worried about being slightly 
encroached on.  I think their biggest push hough is on their current 
security crusade.  Nonetheless, we'll want to watch tis closely but it would 
be hugely helpfull if they'd drop the I'm biggest therefore I can do what I 
want approach.

Taken from the site at:
http://techrepublic.com.com/5100-22_11-5578815.html?tag=nl.e019

Reversal: Next IE update divorced from Windows

February 16, 2005

Takeaway:
Version 7.0 of the browser will launch ahead of the next update to Windows, 
as Microsoft shifts plans.


By
Ina Fried
and
Paul Festa

Staff Writer, CNET News.com

SAN FRANCISCO--Reversing a longstanding Microsoft policy, Bill Gates said 
Tuesday that the company will ship an update to its browser separately from 
the
next major version of Windows.

A beta, or test, version of Internet Explorer 7 will debut this summer, 
Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect said in a keynote address 
at the
RSA Conference 2005 here. The company had said that it would not ship a new 
IE version before the next major update to Windows, code-named Longhorn, 
arrives
next year.

In announcing the plan, Gates acknowledged something that many outside the 
company had been arguing for some time--that the browser itself has become a
security risk.

"Browsing is definitely a point of vulnerability," Gates said.

The new browser version will work on machines running on Windows XP Service 
Pack 2, a security-focused update to the operating system that the company
launched last summer,
Gates said.

Mike Nash,
an executive in Microsoft's security business and technology unit, said in 
an interview that Microsoft has not determined how or when the final version
of IE 7 will ship, but that it is planned ahead of Longhorn.

Nash said it has not been decided whether IE 7 will come with a different 
Windows update, such as a security revamp.

"We'll be updating Windows on a regular basis," he said. "How the browser 
gets packaged--whether it's with a service pack--has not been nailed down. 
There
is going to be a Service Pack 3 (of Windows XP). That's not a surprise. How 
that relates to (IE 7's release), we haven't figured out yet."

As recently as August, Microsoft said that
no new stand-alone version was planned
before Longhorn, and the company reiterated back then that its plan was to 
make new IE features available with major Windows releases. "At this time, 
there
are no plans to release a new stand-alone version of IE," a Microsoft 
representative said.

In November, Microsoft
opened the door slightly
to improving IE before Longhorn, though it indicated that improvements might 
come through add-ons to the browser, rather than through an updated version
of IE.

Analysts attributed Microsoft's change of heart to the progress of the 
Mozilla Foundation's
Firefox browser,
which has made incremental but steady market share gains against IE in 
recent months. In a survey conducted late last year, Firefox
nudged IE below the 90 percent mark
for the first time since the height of the browser wars in the 1990s.

"I think it's a response to both the delay of Longhorn and the challenge of 
Firefox," said NPD Group analyst Ross Rubin, who added that Firefox was 
probably
the sharper spur. "Were there no Firefox, they'd have more leeway to sit on 
it until Longhorn."

Bart Decrem, a founding member of the Mozilla Foundation, former head of its 
marketing and business development and current volunteer, said that 
Microsoft
clearly was responding to the group's work.

"I can't think of a better validation of the success of Firefox," said 
Decrem. "The success of Firefox is forcing Microsoft to improve IE. The only 
surprise
is that it took them this long to make that announcement."

Nash would not say whether Microsoft hopes to stem defections or gain back 
share lost to Firefox.
Bitten by bugs
Microsoft's decision to announce plans for IE 7 at a security conference was 
no coincidence. IE 6's security reputation has suffered over the years, 
dogged
by a
long string
of security bugs,
phishing
schemes and patches.

The company sought to allay security concerns last year by issuing the SP2 
update for Windows XP, which included a number of changes to browser 
security.
But critics complained that the update would benefit only those people who 
either already owned XP or who had paid for an operating system upgrade, 
leaving
about
half the Windows world
out in the cold.

Microsoft on Tuesday acknowledged that those complaints about XP exclusivity 
lingered, particularly among enterprise users of Windows 2000.

"Right now, we're focused on XP SP2," Dean Hachamovitch, who heads 
Microsoft's IE team, wrote in the company's
IE blog,
in a posting dated Tuesday. "We're actively listening to our major Windows 
2000 customers about what they want and comparing that to the engineering 
and
logistical complexity of that work. That's all I can say on that topic."

But IE 6 has earned enmity among developers, and not only for its security 
lapses. Web authors have long complained about Microsoft's spotty 
implementation
of
various Web standards
including Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the Portable Network Graphics (PNG) 
image format, Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) and Extensible 
Markup
Language (XML).

As the company reversed itself on issuing a standalone IE, Web authors 
wondered aloud whether version 7 would fix those bugs along with the 
security holes.

"Any released information stating your commitment to modern coding 
practices--meaning XHTML, CSS, XML, not to mention full PNG support?" asked 
Web designer
Brady Frey
in response to Hachamovitch's blog posting. "Aside from security, this has 
been the reason why we've dropped IE's usage company wide--I have the choice
of building one Internet application for all users, or one for IE users. We 
don't want to waste money doing both anymore."

Microsoft's Nash declined to shed any light on the question of features in 
the IE update, restricting his comments to planned security enhancements 
such
as better defenses against phishing scams and improved spyware protection.

"Right now, the focus is security," Nash said. "There may be other things 
that are in there, but the goal is on security."

Nash said the shift in IE release plans was a response to customer pressure. 
Demand for the antiphishing features, Nash said, came not only from 
individual
customers but also from companies that deal with a lot of personal 
information over the Internet--businesses like financial institutions and 
Web retailers.

"They had a lot of influence as well," Nash said.

The company plans to target phishing scams in two main ways. First, the new 
browser will look for techniques commonly used by such scams, such as having
Web links that don't match the text of the hyperlink, as well as links that 
point to numeric Web addresses. Microsoft also plans the equivalent of a 
blacklist,
which would identify and call out URLs associated with known scams.

Apart from promising a test version by summer, Microsoft remained coy about 
its plans for releasing the final standalone IE 7.

"Yes, we have a date in mind," Hachamovitch wrote in the IE blog. "I'll talk 
about the date after we get feedback from customers and partners. We're 
going
to release a beta and listen, then refresh the beta and listen some more. 
We'll ship when the product is ready."

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