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The Internet Explorer Mobile browser that ships with Windows Phone 7 has some great user mobile functionality, but there are also some security-oriented design features that are very useful. Because most malware threats are introduced through web browsers, reducing the attack surface of the browser wherever possible makes good sense.
One nod to mobile user enhancements is the Windows Phone 7 on-screen keyboard. It includes a dedicated “.com” key—so users don’t need to type as many characters when entering URLs. And if users tap and hold the “.com” key, they can select .com, .net, .org, or .edu.
It also suggests websites as users type on the keyboard. It also automatically recognizes different types of information, such as street addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses—and makes them actionable. Tapping a phone number automatically calls the number, and tapping an address automatically shows the location on Bing maps and offers the user directions. The display capabilities are world-class, of course; users can pinch their fingers together or stretch them apart to zoom in or out while viewing webpages, flick the screen to scroll or pan, tap a picture to view it full-screen, or double-tap text to have it fit on the screen for easy reading.
From a security perspective, Internet Explorer Mobile on Windows Phone 7 always runs at the least-privileged level and operates independently of all other phone applications. It’s designed so that it can’t access data in the phone’s file system, or access information from other applications in memory. All of this helps to minimize the risk of malicious software (also called malware) attacks.
Internet Explorer Mobile on Windows Phone 7 also ensures that malicious code can’t be launched from websites. For example, installing an application through the browser is impossible. It’s also impossible to install third-party plugins; it doesn’t check or scan plugins, it simply doesn’t allow them. This might seem harsh to some, but not to any IT pro who has had to deal with malware spreading through their organization.
Internet Explorer Mobile on Windows Phone 7 uses the desktop Internet Explorer 7 rendering engine with some enhancements made for mobile layout, along with some scripting capabilities from Internet Explorer 8. The combination appears to be a good one. For more info, see the “Windows Internet Explorer Mobile on Windows Phone 7” article on the Windows Phone 7 Guides for IT Professionals page on the Microsoft Download Center.