Recently, we reported that Microsoft plans to fix the IE browser soon, addressing such concerns as security. However, it seemed unlikely at that time that a new IE would make its way onto anything other than a new version of Windows, and that we would be waiting for Longhorn before we got IE 7. However, recent developments have cast doubt on this, leading one to believe that a new IE could be with us before a new Windows.

A beta, or test, version of Internet Explorer 7 will debut this summer, reversing the earlier stance that Microsoft would not ship a new IE version before the next major update to Windows. Acknowledging the need for more security in the IE browser, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said that a new browser version will work on machines running on Windows XP Service Pack 2. Many analysts believe that the move is a reaction to the success of Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser.

"I think it's a response to both the delay of Longhorn and the challenge of Firefox. Were there no Firefox, they'd have more leeway to sit on it until Longhorn." - NPD Group analyst Ross Rubin.