By Kevin Yank

IE 7 Update for Pirated Windows Users

By Kevin Yank

Browsers on

The Microsoft Internet Explorer Weblog has announced that the latest update to Internet Explorer 7 will drop the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation step from the installer. Although the announcement stops just shy of saying it, the real effect of this move is to allow people running pirated versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 to get the IE7 upgrade.

When Microsoft first released IE 7 one year ago next week, they made it a “forced” update for Windows XP, in the hopes that this would help get more people onto the new browser. For Microsoft, this would help get more people onto the more secure IE 7 platform in a hurry. For web developers, this would get more users onto the more standards-compliant IE 7 rendering engine.

How successful has this been? Well, let’s look at the browser stats for As you’d expect, there is a high percentage of Firefox users (48%) in the site’s audience, reflecting the number of web developers that use it as their primary browser. Nevertheless, Internet Explorer is still responsible for 43% of the visits to in the past month.

IE Versions on

It turns out, however, that only half of those visits are made by people running Internet Explorer 7. In other words, one in five visits to is made by someone who uses Internet Explorer 6.0 as his or her primary browser.

What Microsoft seems to be betting on is that a good number of those IE 6 users have not been able to upgrade to IE 7 because they are running pirated copies of Windows (a factor, incidentally, which may also have driven many new users to Firefox).

Other reasons users may have chosen to forego the IE 7 update is that they are subject to corporate IT policies that are slow to adopt upgrades like these, or that they’re running pre-Service Pack 2 versions of Windows XP that don’t support IE 7 (SP2 itself will not install on pirated Windows XP systems).

And of course there are users who simply preferred IE 6’s user interface. As a nod in their direction, Microsoft has made the traditional menu bar visible by default with the latest IE 7 update, addressing one of the most common complaints of first-time IE 7 users.

Do you know a stubborn IE 6 user? Will this latest update get them over the line? In not, what do you think Microsoft would really have to do to get these users onto IE 7?

  • woo! I’m proud to be that 0.3% using opera :)

  • Opera’s actually at 2.86% with us, but that’s still worthy of bragging, Chris. :)

  • neildonald

    In a corporate environment that uses a published desktop in 256 colours (citrix or terminal server) IE7 looks horrible…

  • mihd

    you saying these “pirates” weren’t able to install IE7 before?

    if anything all the nagging validation screens would have prevented average users using it,
    your average “pirate” always gets to use the latest and greatest no matter what

    anyways opera is the best browser!
    firefox is way too bloated,
    IE7 aint bad either for one it uses alot less resources than firefox, and fonts dont look nurdy/ugly!

  • bernhard

    Haha, I had a good laugh there!

    Microsoft makes IE7 available for people running pirated Microsoft products? What comes next?

  • n not, what do you think Microsoft would really have to do to get these users onto IE 7?

    Ship FF as their default browsor :)

  • snarky

    Well, I’m using a valid OEM version of XP, but for whatever reason, it always bonks out whenever I try to upgrade any MS product. Hence, I gave up on MS stuff a long time ago because of it.

  • @chris ward: That 0.3% is actually referring to non v6 or v7 installed of IE only. ie. Pre v6 or some other wacky version number.

    Your Opera share is part of the 8% in the top graph.

  • I don’t know so many stubborn IE6 users, so much as ones that have no idea that IE7 exists (or even that browsers have versions, or that there are even alternatives to IE).

    These non-technical people are using Windows XP, so for whatever reason sticking with IE6 has been the path of least resistance for them.

  • Awie

    I like IE 7, but it’s too buggy I supposed. I had experience install it on my PC several times and for what it’s worth, not long after that I also had to reinstall Windows XP. Firefox is much better though sometimes it crash unexpectedly. When IE 7 gone ‘kaput’, any other browser installed would be the same too. I am using a Valid MS product though, Validation is no burden to me. But I dislike some of MS product as it too vulnerable especially IE 7. It wasn’t so safe anyway on the Internet much like on the land. Happy computing.

  • Zawawi

    IE 7 is too buggy I supposed. Firefox is much better, hadn’t try Opera because it got advertisement which I dislike all free application that came with advertisement. I had experience installed IE 7 several times though, which later not long after that I had to reinstall Windows XP. When IE 7 gone ‘kaput’, any other browser would be the same too. I’m not much concerns of the Validation process as I’m using a Valid License copy of all MS product but MS browser really unworthy than the rest of their commercial products. Now, I’m pretty much satisfied wih Firefox as it gets me anywhere on the Internet safely.

  • Nixopax

    I have a legit copy of XP, but I haven’t been forced to install IE7 yet. I’ve made a point of making sure it doesn’t get installed when I do updates. Quite frankly, I don’t want it. I’m very happy running Firefox, and having IE as my backup; after Opera of course. :)

  • nickobec

    In my work environment at least 290 of the 300 computers only have IE6. A large number because they are W2K or NT4 (don’t laugh too much). The XP machines are restricted to IE6 because according to support staff, IE7 can not access key systems including payroll.

  • Anonymous

    WDA also rejects my OEM install.
    (My IE7 crashed about 2 months ago and I’ve been 100% FF since.)

  • rhett

    I have a lot of stubborn users that have not yet upgraded to IE7 from IE6, but I don’t think any of them are running pirated copies of Windows.

    For the most part, these are just non-technical consumers and business people that are resistant to change in general, but particularly to the interface “improvements” Microsoft introduced to IE7.

    The menu bar was a common complaint, but its only the tip of the iceberg, overall I think Microsoft really hurt their chances of getting a high adoption rate by “streamlining” the interface so dramatically with this release. Interface changes are frustrating for non-technical users, especially broad interface changes on a commonly-used application like a web browser.

    It’s a shame they didn’t make the new rendering engine and security features available in an IE6-style interface and allow users to reject the interface upgrades or defer them until later… it would sure be nice for developers to have the improved standards support of IE7 more widely adopted.

  • Bogdan

    We use all of them to test the pages, yet for real development IE helps us more (i.e. ActiveX embeding etc.)

  • StephanP

    At my office, we’re (still) on Windows 2000.
    So, no IE7 option for us.


  • Anonymous

    I had IE 7 installed but my bookmarks started to randomly get corrupted. So I switched back to IE 6. No more corrupted bookmarks. I prefer the interface of IE 6 anyway.

  • Anonymous

    My be MS may include his browser in the future Linux distribution. And take FF to use in their new Windows version.
    Or more easy to MS, they make a pirate Microsoft Linux version, including IE7.

  • Carbonize

    I love the comment about not being able to install SP2 on a pirated copy of XP. I think you will find that they can. As Mihd said pirates will always have the latest and greatest installed.

    I do disagree with Mihd’s comment that IE7 uses less resources that Firefox. You have to remember that a large proportion of IE’s resources is always running in Windows. The HTML engine is used a lot in the displaying of windows contents.

  • smokeycoda

    I am one of those ‘stubborn IE6 users’. Why? Because I develop websites.
    There is an old saying about architects not wishing live in the properties they design. That seems rather like the web developers on this forum who prefer to use a minority browser like Opera, because it is ‘superior’. I prefer to experience the web in the same way as the majority of people visiting my websites, rather than living in an ivory tower, and the majority are still using IE6/IE7.

    I also provide IT support for a number of small businesses. In that role, I have converted a lot of PCs back to IE6 because of a bug in IE7 which affects Outlook, causing some emails to print out incorrectly. And why not FF? Simple – most of the users have PCs at home, and they are happier and more productive when they use applications with which they are most familiar. This is the real world.

  • Anony Mous

    MS needs to stop trying to be the enforcement arm of SPA and RIAA! Once people stop being afraid MS might “scrape” off some identifying info and send it to the constabulary, maybe people will return to them, the way they did for 3.0/3.1 Neither great products, by a whole lot less spyware from “Unlce Billy” in those versions, either.

  • Anony Mous

    MS needs to stop trying to be the enforcement arm of SPA and RIAA! Once people stop being afraid MS might “scrape” off some identifying info and send it to the constabulary, maybe people will return to them, the way they did for 3.0/3.1 Neither great products, but a whole lot less spyware from “Unlce Billy” in those versions, either.

  • Anonymous

    The reason I’m still at IE 6.0 is that I still run the Windows 2000 Professional- and haven’t needed to upgrade! I do run Firefox as my primary browser however.

  • Same Old Story

    Microsoft need to stop being so overly proprietary about everything. The more closed they are, the less people want to use their software. The world has changed a lot. These days standards are open, source code is open, consumer software is free or close to it. Except for Microsoft, who’re still holding on to a dead licencing model and still trying desperately to make sure everything they do locks in customers for life, like it or not. The more they resist the changes, the more people make easier choices, like doing nothing (staying with IE6), or moving an open alternative (Firefox).

    Developers are also moving away because the path of least resistance is away from Microsoft’s dictated terms. Just try and remove any version of IE from your computer. Why so difficult? Try run IE6 and IE7 on the same computer to test browser compatibility. Why so difficult? I hate to think when IE8 comes out. Are Microsoft really going to expect that web developers have three computers for testing just so they can test each version of IE? The more tangled the web they weave, the more people find easier alternatives or do nothing.

    Here’s a tip if someone who actually has some sway at Microsoft is reading this. Make IE8 easy to remove, able to run alongside other versions of IE, make it run on all versions of Windows above Windows 98, at least at the same level of functionality as Firefox. And make installation simple: click here to download and install, no strings attached. If you can’t do that, you’ve brought the resulting headaches you have on yourselves. Oh, and make it open source, or you’ll continue to fall further and further behind Firefox instead of catching up.

  • I am not one to move to the cutting edge Operating system that Microsoft says it has released. I don’t like IE. PERIOD! I lover Firefox. It may run slow at first but it runs fast afterwards. I am still at Windows 2000, the last of the most stable of all operating system since NT. XP??? I don’t trust it and never will. So I will stay with 2K for a bit longer til I really have to upgrade to XP…

    BTW I am a freelance web designer/developer (which is why I LOVE Firefox). I have never seen IE display a webpage correctly without having to have some hacks done, even the latest IE7 browser. Standard compliant, my foot. IE latest incarnation is the same as the past one… still buggy.

  • b

    I’m not going to spend $300 to upgrade Quickbooks so that I can use IE7. I have access to it elsewhere when I need to test a website. The rest of the time I use FF.

  • Stinkbug

    I’d be willing to bet it may not just be pirates or corporations. How many of these users are running older versions of windows? While that may not be a high number, what about the number of people who don’t install updates, just because they don’t know. I believe it’s turned on by default, but I think they’re still asked if they want to install them, right? I’m willing to bet a lot of those people choose not to install, because they’re not comfortable installing something on their system they know nothing about. First, they may not understand it’s coming from Microsoft and second, they’ve been told not to open or install software from tech friends because of all the worms, and virus.

    I don’t know though… just a thought.

  • Chris

    Microsoft is a victim of their own success. The corporate mindset is “don’t fix what ain’t broke” which is understandable. They also demand that Windows runs their mission critical app written in COBOL back in 1983 or in the case of the small business owner, an ancient version of some accounting package developed for Windows 95 that has long since gone belly up but they don’t know how to migrate to another system.

    They are at the same time a victim of their own failure. Updates that break critical functionality or processes became so commonplace that SA’s developed a nervous tick every time a critical update was released.

    Then there are the home users that look at their computers with the same amount of passion and curiosity that they look at their microwaves with. They never update, they never upgrade. They only get current when they buy a new computer.

    Then there’s the fact that Microsoft was just plain stupid with the IE 7 interface. I know many users, including my boss that tried IE 7, got confused and went running back to IE 6. Heck, I was even initially confused with the interface when I first saw it and I consider myself pretty technically adept.

    Finally, there’s Vista backlash. People are avoiding Vista like the plague which is extending the life of IE 6 beyond it’s expected lifespan.

    Sadly, IE 6 will be relevant for at least next 5 years.

  • Anonymous

    I still have IE 6 version (not pirated) but haven’t used it for more than a year, when I began using Firefox. I used to use IE to view PDF files, but then Firefox fixed its problem with PDF interface, and I haven’t had a need to use IE. I didn’t even know about IE 7, but I think I won’t upgrade, mainly because it seems that each time Microsoft introduces an upgrade on anything, it is a less improved product.

  • Bob

    my latest web stats have ie6 at 38% and ie7 at 33%
    Until those numbers switch, I will use the browser that the majority of my users have. ie7 is off on an aux. computer that I use just for testing. When the numbers switch, so will I

  • Bogdan … ActiveX is an abomination written by satan himself. Your company needs to learn to deliver programs without that loose prostitute . Some PHP and Ajax and **poof** … you have that compiled program feeling in a browser.

    I rolled out a network 2 years for a dealership, 100 users. I took all these new Dells, created 1 image and cloned each machine with it. I disabled ActiveX’s rights to install anything, then I had the server force the policy on login just in case.

    Users whined for 3 weeks that their browser wasn’t working right … when I asked them for the site that had given me trouble, they were all slack of sites … games and BS. There were a few tools they used on sites that needed it, I added those few sites to a policy that allowed the installs from activex from that domain.

    The result? A car dealership that went from 85% of the computers absolutely crippled with spyware stealing all the resources to a no virues, no spyware enviornment … even 2 years later after I’ve left the company (which didn’t hire anyone to take my place), things are still working well. The only thing is Windows Media Player … another program loose in the chastity department.

    This IE6 business just bytes, we are all so damn tired of you IE6. Damn, every week or so I open Firefox and gets a “you’re upgraded message” … someone please share this secret to MS! Better for MS to disable the OS completely than continue to allow the spread of viruses and spyware around the world … not to mention lost development hours (i.e. $$$$) due to hacking your code around for IE6.

    Hey MS, in the end who wins? Because it certainly isn’t your reputation.

    Opera users … in my opinion the only redeeming value of that browser is that they code it in a way that just seems to work with everything, it’s solid. They get kudos for that in my book … but I still prefer less browsers … period. If it was otherwise, myself and I’m sure many others just wouldn’t bother catering to the 1% of Opera users out there.

  • No sympathy

    smokeycoda wrote:

    I am one of those ’stubborn IE6 users’. Why? Because I develop websites.

    There is an old saying about architects not wishing live in the properties they design. That seems rather like the web developers on this forum who prefer to use a minority browser like Opera, because it is ’superior’.

    Stubborn or nonsensical?

    Your analogy is very flawed.

  • Old Story … open source isn’t that answer for MS … they seek to make $ … they are a ‘for profit’ business, not a “community” after all. I love open source, but most of that is free is it not? Outside of making plugins no one needs to mess with it.

    They simply need to make forced updates the default regardless of piracy (you can shut it off if you know why you can’t update) and quickly.

    Better to have people steal your software and have it work like a champ than to let then steal it and have it work broken and unoptimized.

  • No sympathy … that analogy isn’t flawed at all. The point is if a developer actually used IE6 enough in the early stages, or at least often enough, they’d build a better website … in this case – one that works well in IE6.

    My definition of better website – “A website that looks and feels great and accomplishes the goals for the most amount of visitors”

  • Captain Obvious

    As a web developer, I test in Safari, IE6, IE7, and FF2 and Windows. IE7 is the most standards-wayward browser of them all. If you’ve ever tried CSS positioning in IE7 you will know what I mean. I avoid IE7 at all costs.


    This is disappointing news because it means it will be more important to find IE7 workarounds, just like we had to make IE6 workarounds because it’s the worst non-compliant browser available. Even IE6 renders pages more closely to standards than IE7.

  • Peter W

    The way IE7 handles much of my “validated” CSS is disturbing. I also do web development and use IE6 and FF primarily, but since real world users have IE7 I have extra work to do. I do test IE7 on a separate machine (fortunately I have one for this). IE7…ha! who needs it?

  • moxie81

    I have difficulty with key validation on my school email account with IE7, which is funny because my school REQUIRES students to log in using IE. Then, I cannot compose emails using IE7, which makes it very difficult to communicate with teachers and other students. Then there are issues like social networking sites, where I am making a large percentage of my income. CSS doesn’t render correctly, even though IE7 is supposed to be more compatible.

    Firefox solves ALL of the above problems.

    For example, look at my yuwie profile: in both browsers. You can see that FF is MUCH better.

    Chris Sentman

  • WebDude

    How stupid of M$. Anyone who knows how to find a bootleg XP will also find the WGA fixes. I hated IE7 so much it was worth formatting C: to be sure it was gone for good. Now it lives in Virtual PC where I only look at it when I have to.

  • Molokai developer

    “Do you know a stubborn IE 6 user? Will this latest update get them over the line? In not, what do you think Microsoft would really have to do to get these users onto IE 7?”

    Make IE work as advertised.

    The MS developers should look at Firefox, a far superior browser, for their inspiration and standards compliance guidelines.

  • phpimpact

    They can remove the Windows Genuine Advantage validation software, add extra functionality, make it open-source, and hey, even pay you to use it, but you know what, it will always be a browser.

    On the other hand, Firefox is not only a browser but also a web platform. At work, we installed 275 copies of Firefox 2. We use it as a development platform to provide custom solutions to our intranet users, who need extra functionality added to their web applications.

    IE is the past, Firefox the future.

  • Chris Clark

    I tried out IE7 on my PC and it crashed, crashed, crashed. Having then got into all the issues of the whole proprietary mess that Microsoft have generated, let alone the DRM rubbish I am freezing everything at XP, Office 2003, and moving other systems to Linux/Open Office. Firefox is browser of choice, though I use IE6 for some web admin – I recognise the Payroll access problem an earlier user reported.


  • hal305

    It’s time Microsoft upgraded all Users of IE with the latest versions automatically and without charge. That way all Developers, Designers and Authors will use the latest and less and less hacks will be required. That will pay Microsoft more handsomely than all the nonsense they’re doing now to keep the older versions or pirated ones at bay – think about it.

  • Ewok

    I’m getting sick and tired of MS it seems to me they want to own your computer and am now using FF and going to change my Op Sys to Linux

  • Anonymous

    Offering IE7 after loosing to FireFox is like giving medicin to ill person after death!

  • Anonymous

    I believe you can install a SP2 on the pirate version of windows by ordering a free copy of it from microsoft.

  • anonymous

    I believe there are other people around like me. After having a computer for 10-12 years now, they are just sick of upgrading. I have been thru all the windows and IE versions and upgrades over the years. It used to be fun, now it’s just a pain. I’m completely satisfied with XP sp2 and have no desire to upgrade to Vista. IE 6.02 works just fine and I see no reason to go thru upgrading again. I bought a new computer a year ago and it’s fast enough with a hard drive I will never fill and I see no reason to have to replace it in the near future. I have Firefox and Opera as well.

    If I’m content, and it all works, why should I bother upgrading yet again?


  • Bob

    Microsoft seems to be having problems with it’s monopolistic strategy. Microsoft wants 100% of everything without putting forth any effort. Let’s face it, Vista has fallen flat on it’s face, and IE7 has not done much better. Users don’t want Vista and IE 7…. now Microsoft thinks it’s because of pirated versions of XP. Wake up Microsoft, your software stinks! Could it be that users just want an OS and browser that works without all the bloat? Maybe it’s why I have switched to Linux and Firefox. Runs great and less filling!

  • Fixing the IE6 render engine would actually screw over a lot of web development. It’s best that they deployed their rendering engine changes into 7 since that allows us to sandbox our hacks into separate files and sections of our applications and web pages.

    On another note, this is great news. Aside from all the other “i use ‘x’ browser banter, this will ultimately lead us to making IE7 as the bottle neck for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which is essentially, better than microsoft’s version 6 browser.

    It’s also nice to hear they’re porting over the old interface of 6 onto 7 because, yeah, there ‘are’ people that simply don’t want to upgrade because the darn thing looks and behaves differently.

  • anonymous … you are so right … there was a time when i was like … whoo hooo … Photoshop 7 is out, Dreamweaver MX is out …. IE 5 … but I’m also at a point now where it’s just all work, i still enjoy what i do for certain though. i still embrace upgrades, but now only if it makes sense or i care too … which is why Adobe hasn’t earned my $ for the new PS and Dreamweaver.

    if firefox didn’t upgrade itself constantly, trust me … i wouldn’t be eagerly checking mozilla’s site for possible upgrades more than once in a long while.

    i think some developers that have been around the block more than a few times are much less passionate about the newness of their software and computers. and average user simply wants to check their mail, shop on ebay, research the hobbies that interest them and get off. trust me, they aren’t excited about IE7 when IE6 does the job for them.

    the only reason i upgrade my hardware more than most is because i’m a gamer and it’s the only software that makes me feel like it’s time to upgrade my hardware.

  • Bob … the average user needs linux like they need a bullet in the head. no one wants to spend more than the minimum to do what they want to do … linux is still a power users OS no matter what anyone says. if they think otherwise they are niave.

    it’s a kick ass server platform but still not ready for non-power users.

  • sorry … let me rephrase this … ‘no one wants to spend more than the …’

    ‘most people don’t want to spend more than the …’

  • da rule

    Pirated windows is not a issue to update IE6 to IE7. This article title is not correct as it should be changed to “No more WGA for IE7”.
    The reason that ppl dont upgraded is that IE7 is a bad product.

  • Dan M

    I haven’t upgraded to IE7 (except on corporate machines where I have no choice) because it’s clunky and bizarre. For websites that require IE, I am happy in IE6, sans tabs. For everything else, Firefox seems to work…

  • FlyOnTheWall

    Well, my default browser is Firefox, but I work for a corp that is forward thinking and would like to upgrade to IE 7 but a lot of in house web applications will not work with IE 7. I like the new interface. Took some getting use to but in the end I figured out exactly where everything was.

    I think that IE 7 is slower than FireFox and tends to use a lot of memory at times. When comparing the two it always feels that Firefox is snappier then IE 7.

    I agree with the other comments, about the average pirate has access to the latest and greatest when ever they want, but those that have not upgraded to SP2 because they have a pirated copy may not be necessarily true. I bet there are some companies out there running SP1 of Windows XP because they simply have not taken the time to upgrade, or have decided that what they are using is just fine.

  • Mandrake

    Microsoft refers to poor people as “pirates” or “hackers”. The same people that don’t know the existence of free OS because of Microsoft’s own monopolist strategy. First they take away their freedom of choice and then their money. And if they are poor and don’t have money, they will prosecute them. Microsoft is the cancer of our society, but we finally have a cure, and it’s called open source. While Mozilla provides, Microsoft prosecutes.

  • JavaZombie

    I work for a large corporation and the web based training they use throughout the company is not compatible with IE7 but works just fine with my browser of choice, Mozilla FireFox. The upgrade ran on my home PC but I have not launched IE since the install completed.

    To get users to move to IE7 they should use the Mozilla engine and use one of the IE themes available for it.

  • Shand

    I quickly uninstalled ie 7.0, when I found it installed untidily. known conflicted with Windows Movie Maker.

  • Bull

    Firstly your statistics are probably skewed as propeller-heads are more likely to be using less main stream products. According to ±73% are using a Microsoft browser, but yes the uptake of IE7 (22%) is not high at this stage.

    As far as Microsoft is concerned, it’s sad that we have to complain in your forum, where we will continue to be ignored, because Microsoft don’t and won’t listen.

    They’ve surrounded themselves with an impenetrable barrier that makes the iron curtain look like a cashmere blanket.

    Computers and in particular “Windows” have not delivered their original promises, and the world today is less efficient.

    On the news, some Chinese person has “just invented” a WiFi radio. Fancy that a Wireless, Wireless! Wow, I bet that would impress Marconi.

    Finally (for now anyway) I find it rather sad, that we have all been duped into chasing a brighter faster more hyper-inter-galactic “rainbow”, when we have not remediated the problems in any of the past versions.

  • gorkhali

    i had pirated version of windowx xp service pack 2, it did not let me instal internet xplorer 7, it asked me to buy a legit version of xp

  • O D-sign

    Hey, save your breath and make the switch to Mac :-) I´m forced to work in Windows 2000 and XP at work but as soon as I’m home I switch on my Mac and all the frustration of crappy software and stone-age look and feel washes right of me!
    I don´t understand how MS are going to deceive the great mass of people to make the fantastic Vista-switch “Buy our all new OS (and by the way, you´ll need a new computer to) for lot´s of $ and get just a new shiny coat on the same rubbish?”
    Check out the new OSX 10.5 and you´ll understand what I mean…

  • Jeremy

    IE 7 just provides a hassle for us web designers. Microsoft once again makes its own rules and demands the populis to abide by them. IE 7 is a piece of shit, when will Microsoft learn? And macs? Not exactly the best system to run games on…

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