IE 7, which has was announced in February 2005 by chairman Bill Gates, has been touted by the company as a significant update in the areas of security and usability. The interface has been streamlined and tabs have been added to compete with rivals such as Mozilla's Firefox and Opera's flagship browser. On the security front, IE 7 adds anti-phishing defenses as well as additional features to control ActiveX controls, which historically have been a pain point for Microsoft's browser.
"It's here, it's final, and we're excited," said Margaret Cobb, the group product manager for the browser.
The most controversial aspect of IE 7 has been Microsoft's decision to push the update to all users who have Automatic Updates enabled. Although users can reject IE 7 -- and continue using their current edition of Internet Explorer -- Microsoft will begin rolling out the browser as a "High priority" update next month. In July, when Microsoft offered up a toolkit to indefinitely postpone IE 7's installation, it justified using Automatic Updates, a mechanism for providing patches to Windows, because of the new browser's security implications.