Microsoft to Ship IE Version 7.0 in Summer

Rhett Pardon
SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft will launch a new version of Internet Explorer as early as July, but it will limit Version 7.0 to XP SP2 users.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who announced the new version of IE at the RSA computer-security conference in San Francisco, said the browser will expand defenses against malware, spyware and phishing attacks.

Microsoft's plans to ship a new version of its browser come as millions of computer users have defected to Firefox, a free browser made by the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation that has been less affected by Internet attacks.

The rise of Firefox helped to pressure Microsoft last year to refocus on making Internet Explorer more secure.

“[Version 7.0] will include “new levels of security,” said Gates, who noted that the enhanced browser will be built into the next version of Microsoft's Windows operating system, expected in 2006 and code-named Longhorn.

“I'm very optimistic we will be able to mitigate the security problems,” he said of the first major upgrade to Internet Explorer in four years.

Gates' comments were the latest sign of a shift in Microsoft's strategy to develop more of its own security technology, instead of relying on other companies to protect users of its software.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company is ramping up its security-software segment, which is worth $10 billion annually. It has acquired three small security-technology companies in the past two years.