The next version of Internet Explorer will actually have less
integration with Windows, not more.
Currently, IE6 is tightly integrated with Windows XP, meaning that you can load web pages from local windows and set live web pages as a desktop background.
However, this tight integration poses a great many security risks, since flaws in the browser code can also exploit other areas of the operating system.
Removing IE from the core of the system will make it easier for users to choose FireFox, and will prevent IE trying to make itself the default browser any time you happen to start it up by accident.
However, it seems like Microsoft might be going in the opposite direction with other applications. Previously, Outlook Express has been a removable component of the OS: the mail programme has now been renamed Windows Mail and looks like it may be brought into the OS in a more integrated fashion, as Apple has done with Apple Mail on OSX.
IE7 sports all kinds of improvements, including long-awaited support for tabbed browsing and better security and news reader features.
Have you tried IE7? Will you be tempted to when you get Vista, or will you stick with FireFox? Let us know your thoughts over in the forums.