Microsoft has released an updated version of its Internet Explorer 7 Web browser that does not require Windows Genuine Advantage validation to check whether users are running “genuine” Windows before allowing them to download. Program Manager Steve Reynolds made the announcement today on Microsoft’s IE Team blog:

“Because Microsoft takes its commitment to help protect the entire Windows ecosystem seriously, we’re updating the IE7 installation experience to make it available as broadly as possible to all Windows users. With today’s ‘Installation and Availability Update,’ Internet Explorer 7 installation will no longer require Windows Genuine Advantage validation and will be available to all Windows XP users.”
Of course, the move could also be seen as a strike against Firefox. The popular open source browser has been eating into IE’s market share, with some surveys putting Firefox usage anywhere between 10 and 40 percent of the total browser market, depending on the region. This move will basically allow IE7 to grow its install base to as many systems possible, including those running pirated copies of XP.

Changes found in this refreshed version of IE 7 include a new overview for first time users, the menu bar is now visible by default, and a new MSI installer for enterprises and larger organizations that simplifies deployment for IT administrators.