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Microsoft takes over your PC. Again.

When I bought my computer, I foolishly thought that gave me control over what goes in it. But no. Bill Gates and company know best. Next month they will be installing Internet Explorer 7 into my computer whether I want it or not.

(Well, actually not. "My" computer is now a Mac. They'll be installing IE7 into my machines at work).

In case you didn't realize it: the person who controls your computer is, in fact, the person who wrote the software you're running. If you choose your software well, then the software actually lets you control your own computer.

When Microsoft forces everyone to update like this, it's usually for a really compelling business reason. I haven't found anything conclusive on Microsoft's site, but I suspect it involves Windows anti-piracy features. In other words, there may be something in IE7 that makes it harder to install and maintain unauthorized versions of Windows. Of course, this may also break legitimate but "weird" installations.

If you read the PR on IE7, it sounds like the major improvements (aside from cosmetics, like tabs) are to make things safer for end users. But that's never motivated Microsoft before. Why force everyone to upgrade now?

Here's my suspicion, based on Microsoft's document "IE7_Technology_Overview_Enterprise.doc" -

IE7 incorporates "improvements" in validating on-line vendors. Apparently IE7 will do several additional checks on the cryptographic certificates used to authenticate vendor web sites. In particular, the document talks about stronger "assurance" of the certificate authorities that vouch for those vendors. So, to follow the money, we might be seeing "premium" certificate authorities whose customers get validated without fuss. Such vendors will, of course, have to pay Microsoft for this higher assurance.

But there has to be more. Yes, Microsoft can make money from this. I just doubt there's enough income potential here to explain it.

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