IE updates to become automated

You like Internet Explorer 7 or 8 better than 9, you say? Well, you may be out of luck.

Microsoft announced last week that it will automatically update users' Internet Explorer to the latest version their operating system can support.

That means those running older versions of Internet Explorer on Windows Vista or Windows 7 will automatically be updated to Internet Explorer 9, while XP users will update to Internet Explorer 8.

While the Web browser has followed the practice of notifying users when an update was available, this new process will just get rid of the prompt and push the update straight through without any interaction from those with IE.

But there is a way out for those users completely against updating. To avoid automatically updating or to set an update schedule, download Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 Automatic Update Blocker toolkits. Also, those that have previously opted out of updating their version of IE through Windows Update will not have this pushed upon them.

The move to automatic updates is similar to Google's operating practice with Chrome, and Microsoft sees this as a way to increase security for Web browsers.

"Our goal is to make sure that Windows customers have the most up-to-date and safest browsing experience possible, with the best protections against malicious software such as malware," wrote Ryan Gavin, general manager with Internet Explorer Business and Marketing, in a blog post.

Third-party security experts also agree that leaving updates up to users weakens Internet security when the latest versions of software aren't being utilized.

"Being on the newest possible Internet Explorer (IE8 on Windows XP, IE9 on Vista/Win7) brings a significant increase in security and robustness to malware infections due to better architecture, sandboxing and the included URL filtering feature," said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys.

The automatic update process will begin in January for Internet Explorer users in Australia and Brazil who have automatic updating from Windows Update turned on. Gradual rollouts to other parts of the globe will follow that.

Microsoft isn't the only company following in Google's footsteps of automatic updates for Web browsers -- Mozilla has announced it is also working on an update procedure for Firefox that will cut out the prompt asking permission from users.

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Reader Comments

Sun, Jan 15, 2012 John

Nothing wrong with trying to get users onto Microsoft's latest browser. It will help everyone out. My issue really is why has Microsoft waited so long to do this? Also what does Microsoft really hope to gain by only having IE9 support Vista and Windows 7. Vista was a dud and Windows 7 is just now becoming a viable upgrade for people. What's even more interesting is a Stat that showed only 25% of Windows 7 users are using IE9. The web if filled with how to's on downgrading back to IE 8 or stopping the auto update. Which reads that Microsoft has its work cut out to get converts to IE9.

Wed, Dec 21, 2011

Well then I guess you bandwidth deprived people don't have automatic updates turned on then as of now so there shouldn't be any issue should there? Which is also why some of you are actively supporting the spread of malicious software all the time.

Tue, Dec 20, 2011 Torqued

I know I have gotten updates from MS before for IE and o wonderous to behold, they had a PROBLEM....and rolling back an update doesn't always undo the damage. Satellite issues abound as do issue for people using the "hockey puck" 4G mobile access devices. MS needs to make a method available for capped or non-broadband users to get this update free via CD, via USB, or other media. A partner like BestBuy could have kiosks for doing this and a small tool could be made available to download your update status to a stick to make sure you received the appropriate downloads.

Tue, Dec 20, 2011

This has implications for those that do not have broadband internet access (which is the vast majority of households in my area).

Those of us that use a satellite provider need to schedule downloads of significant size (usually) between 2 AM and 7 PM, otherwise we run the risk of consuming our daily quota of download bandwidth. These satellite services are pretty much dial-up on steroids during the peak evening hours (regardless of company claims) and downloads could take significantly longer during those times.

It should be up to the individual users to decide which level of browser support they desire, and accept the associated security consequences.

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