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Microsoft has announced plans to offer Internet Explorer 7 as a high-priority update to customers as soon as the long-awaited browser update becomes available.

IE7 will be distributed via Microsoft's automatic update service in a bid to offer customers improved protection against security threats.

The final version of the Windows XP version of the IE 7 release is scheduled for Q4 2006. Microsoft said the release contains significant security improvements, such as improved anti-phishing technology and improved ActiveX control, that qualify the release for delivery as a security update.

The upgrade won't happen automatically. Automatic updates will first notify users when Internet Explorer 7 is ready to install and then show a welcome screen that presents key features and the choices to 'Install', 'Don't Install' or 'Ask Me Later'.

Microsoft is also providing a IE7 Blocker Toolkit for businesses that want to block the automatic delivery of the updated browser. The blocker toolkit, which will not expire and is already available, includes a group policy template and an executable script. ®

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