Microsoft to abandon standalone IE

The software giant is phasing out standalone versions of its Internet Explorer Web browser, according to statements attributed to IE's program manager on its Web site.

Microsoft is phasing out standalone versions of its Internet Explorer Web browser, according to statements attributed to IE program manager Brian Countryman in an interview posted on the software giant's Web site.

"As part of the OS (operating system), IE will continue to evolve, but there will be no future standalone installations. IE6 SP1 is the final standalone installation," Countryman said in the the May 7 interview.

Microsoft issued a standalone browser with IE 6, following a court ruling that found the company had violated antitrust laws by bundling IE with its Windows operating system. The company has since settled the case with the Justice Department and most of the other parties to the suit, although a handful of holdouts continue to press for additional remedies.

In the May 7 interview, Countryman dismissed suggestions that the decision to drop a standalone browser was related to antitrust issues, hinting that planned new security enhancements for the upcoming version of its Windows operating system, code named Longhorn, was the driving force behind the move.

Longhorn is expected to include a major security overhaul dubbed Next-Generation Secure Computing Base, formerly known as Palladium.

Critics fear the technology will result in consumers losing control of their PCs and data and that Microsoft could use the technology to lock up market share. Others argue that the software and hardware could help lock down corporate data.

"Legacy OSes have reached their zenith with the addition of IE 6 SP1," Countryman said. "Further improvements to IE will require enhancements to the underlying OS."

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