For many of us, "default settings" are irritations that don’t last long after we install a piece of software or unpack a new computer (although we still recommend buying and building your own). Yet many users leave their default settings just as they found them, which means that in the browser wars, there’s worry that Microsoft gains an unfair advantage by being able to tie its (OS default) web browser to its own internet properties. Google has complained of this recently, though the US government has already signaled that they don’t think it’s an unfair advantage.
Rather than complain, Yahoo is taking a different approach. The company has decided to release its own "version" of Internet Explorer, optimized for Yahoo. The customized browser is built upon Internet Explorer 7 beta 2, and it was configured with Yahoo in mind. Not only is the default search changed from Microsoft’s Live.com to Yahoo’s own offering, but the browser also changes the default home page to Yahoo’s portal, and a second tab is configured to immediately load Yahoo mail.
Still, Yahoo didn’t need to cut some backroom strategy deal with Microsoft to accomplish this. The customized browser is merely an implementation of the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK), which debuted with Internet Explorer 4 and is available to practically anyone. The kit is most commonly used by ISPs and other companies to create similarly tweaked versions of Internet Explorer for deployment across the enterprise or one’s customer base. The customizable features are limited primarily to changing cosmetic features and user-configurable preferences; Internet Explorer itself remains entirely intact.
"Yahoo! used the beta version of the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) to customize IE7 to meet their needs. The IEAK is available to all developers and partners who want to create their own customized versions of IE7, as well as IT pros who want to use it to ease enterprise deployment. You can download it from the Microsoft Technet site," wrote Dean Hachamovitch, IE 7 general manager.
The beta was revealed just before the weekend, but Yahoo has not yet listed it as a featured item on their downloads page. This may stem from the fact that IE 7 is still in beta, and some users report occasional difficulties using Yahoo Mail with the browser (internal testing revealed no problems). We expect to see an updated release when IE 7 is finalized.
This isn’t the first time Yahoo has tapped into Internet Explorer. The company released a similar browser customization with IE 6 in select markets, and they partnered with many ISPs to co-brand browsers that featured Yahoo’s portal. Google, on the other hand, remains a firm backer of Firefox.