"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 sinceand most of the other parties to the suit, although .
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, formerly known as Palladium.
Critics fear the technology will result in consumersand that Microsoft could use the technology to . 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."