Internet Explorer 7

Monday, April 14, 2008

Windows Internet Explorer 7, commonly abbreviated IE7, is a web browser released by Microsoft in late 2006 for Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003 SP1. Internet Explorer 7 is part of a long line of Internet Explorer versions and the first major version of the browser in over 5 years, coinciding with the release of Windows Vista. Its market share is increasing as it ships as the default browser in Vista and is offered as a replacement for Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP via Windows Update. While sources are not in agreement as to IE7's global market share (estimates from three sources range from 23% to 44%), when combined with IE6, the two browsers represent the majority of browsers worldwide.


Version 7.0 of Internet Explorer has been renamed Windows Internet Explorer (as opposed to Microsoft Internet Explorer) as part of Microsoft's rebranding of components that are included with Windows. It is available as part of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, and as a separate download via Windows Update for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) and Windows Server 2003 with SP1 or SP2. Internet Explorer 7 can also be downloaded directly from Microsoft's website. Large portions of the underlying architecture, including the rendering engine and security framework, have been significantly reworked. Partly as a result of security enhancements, the browser is a stand-alone application, rather than integrated with the Windows shell, and is thus no longer capable of acting as a file browser. The first security advisory was posted only one day after the day of release, but it turned out to be a security problem in Outlook Express, not in Internet Explorer 7. The first vulnerability exclusive to Internet Explorer 7 was posted after 6 days. On Windows Vista, Internet Explorer operates in a special "Protected Mode", that runs the browser in a security sandbox that has no access to the rest of the operating system or file system, except the Temporary Internet Files folder. When running in Protected Mode, IE7 is a low integrity process; it cannot gain write access to files and registry keys outside of a user profile's folder. This feature aims to mitigate problems whereby newly-discovered flaws in the browser (or in Add-Ons hosted inside it) allowed hackers to subversively install software on the user's computer (typically spyware).

The Windows Vista and XP version of Windows Internet Explorer 7 additionally feature an update to the WinInet API. The new version has better support for IPv6, and handles hexadecimal literals in the IPv6 address. It also includes better support for Gzip and deflate compression, so that communication with a web server can be compressed and thus will require less data to be transferred. Internet Explorer Protected Mode support in WinInet is exclusive to Windows Vista.

On October 8, 2007, Microsoft removed the Windows Genuine Advantage component of IE7 and opened it for all users of Windows.

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