That applies for all IE users, including those working for companies where IE is mandatory, and patch deployment can be delayed by testing, or for fear of disrupting workflow. "I think that you should just determine for the corporation to trust Microsoft and their quality control" on the patches, Kandek said. "Browser patches are heavily tested by Microsoft, and unlikely to break any existing functionality on the desktop."
Microsoft could conceivably split IE from Windows with its newest browser, Internet Explorer 8, which reached "release candidate" status late last month. "IE8 would be a good opportunity," said Kandek.
Ironically, he may get his wish if the European Union has its way. The Competition Commission, the EU's antitrust agency, recently hit Microsoft with a new set of charges, this time concerning IE. On Jan. 15, the Commission said that by tying IE to Windows, Microsoft "distorts competition" in browsers and gives IE "an artificial distribution advantage" over rivals like Firefox, Apple Inc.'s Safari and Opera Software ASA's Opera.
"If the [Commission's] preliminary views were confirmed, the Commission would consider ordering Microsoft to give users an objective opportunity to choose which competing Web browser(s) instead of, or in addition to, Internet Explorer they wanted to install in Windows, and which one they wanted to have as default," said EU spokesman Jonathan Todd in an e-mail. "Microsoft could also be ordered to technically allow the user to disable Internet Explorer code should the user choose to install a competing browser."
Although IE's market share has been steadily shrinking -- under assault from Firefox, first of all, Safari second -- it accounted for about 68 percent of all browsers used last month, according to Internet metrics vendor Net Applications Inc.
Computerworld is an InfoWorld affiliate.