Microsoft has done what I never expected them to do…they removed the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation that was previously needed to download and install IE 7! This news comes straight from the Internet Explorer blog, and this is their reasoning for doing it:
Because Microsoft takes its commitment to help protect the entire Windows ecosystem seriously, we’re updating the IE7 installation experience to make it available as broadly as possible to all Windows users. With today’s “Installation and Availability Update,” Internet Explorer 7 installation will no longer require Windows Genuine Advantage validation and will be available to all Windows XP users. If you are not already running IE7, you can get it now from the Internet Explorer home page on Microsoft.com, get a customized version from a third-party site, or, if you haven’t already received it via Automatic Updates, this version will be delivered to you as we described previously.
No, really, I’m sure that it’s because Microsoft wants to “help protect the entire Windows ecosystem,” and it has nothing to do with Firefox gaining ground on them. It also appears that the IE 7 market share is starting to level off around 34%, while the IE 6 market share is still at 42%:
Microsoft has probably determined that they need to provide users with the best browsing experience possible, even those that have pirated versions of Windows. If they don’t give people a better caliber browser then they will likely turn to free alternatives such as Firefox and Opera.
Sorry, but I can’t help but point and laugh at Microsoft’s sudden change in heart.