As expected, Microsoft has updated Internet Explorer (IE) by stripping the 'click to activate' warning from the browser, part of the fallout from a patent lawsuit settlement the company struck with Eolas Technologies in August.

Microsoft has posted what it calls the 'Internet Explorer Automatic Component Activation Preview' of IE 6.0 and IE 7.0 for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003 on its website for manual download.

The preview delivers on a promise made last month, when Microsoft said an out-of-court settlement with Eolas paved the way to dump the warning. Microsoft added the notice to IE in April 2006, when it began requiring users to approve ActiveX controls, such as those necessary to show Flash media or display a Portable Document Format (PDF) file before running them for the first time.

Pete LePage, a senior product manager on the IE team, repeated his November assurance that developers will not need to modify their websites. "This change will require no modifications to existing pages, and no new actions for developers creating new pages," LePage said in a post to Microsoft's IE blog. "We are simply reverting to the old behaviour. Once Internet Explorer is updated, all pages that currently require 'click to activate' will no longer require the control to be activated. They'll just work."

The preview is optional, and only available to users via an explicit download, LePage said. Anyone who updates to Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) or Windows XP SP3 in the coming months, however, will find that the IE bundled with those upgrades is also missing the click-to-activate nag. Only in April 2008 will Microsoft push the revised browser to all users.

Previews of the changed IE 6.0 and IE 7.0 can be downloaded from Microsoft's support site. After the modified browser is installed, users must reboot their PCs.

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