Microsoft Releases IE7 Sans WGA

As promised, Microsoft on Tuesday started releasing a version of Internet Explorer 7 without the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation check.

The release, which Microsoft is calling the IE7 Installation and Availability update, is being sent to corporate customers who have not opted out of the automatic delivery and installation process.

Microsoft announced it would commence automatic distribution of the updated IE7 browser back in early October when the release was first made available to users who wanted to download and install it themselves.

At the time, Microsoft enabled administrators who did not want the latest version to delay automatic updates until this week.

However, only customers running Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) 3.0 and have PCs running IE6 will automatically receive the package. Systems administrators can still opt out of having the update automatically delivered and installed.

[cob:Related_Articles]WSUS is a Microsoft software update tool that enables organizations to deploy hotfixes, updates, service packs and other software from servers within their own corporate networks instead of relying on the public Microsoft Update site.

Meanwhile, Windows Vista, which comes with IE7 pre-installed, is not affected by the update. However, Microsoft announced last year that Vista Service Pack 1 will also have the WGA validation check’s so-called “kill switch” disabled.

That means that SP1 will not go into “reduced functionality mode” when it is installed on a Vista system that WGA identifies as non-genuine.

Instead, WGA will nag users who have been identified as running non-genuine copies of Vista to get legal versions by displaying frequent notifications.

“Our previous strategy included…reduced functionality mode,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an statement e-mailed to “But based on customer and partner feedback, we’re taking a new approach that relies on clear, recurring notifications—similar to the approach that worked well in Windows XP earlier.”

“This new strategy takes effect in SP1, and will also be reflected in the forthcoming release of Windows Server 2008,” she added.

The company has published a knowledgebase article describing how to opt out of receiving the IE7 Installation and Availability update.

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