MSIE auto-updates: a holiday gift to web developers everywhere.

THE STATE OF THE WEB is about to get a whole lot better, as the living dead release their stranglehold on the Windows desktop and a new generation of beautifully standards-compliant IE browsers rolls out automatically to tens of millions of computer users:

Today we are sharing our plan to automatically upgrade Windows customers to the latest version of Internet Explorer available for their PC. This is an important step in helping to move the Web forward. We will start in January for customers in Australia and Brazil who have turned on automatic updating via Windows Update. Similar to our release of IE9 earlier this year, we will take a measured approach, scaling up over time.

via IE to Start Automatic Upgrades across Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

27 thoughts on “MSIE auto-updates: a holiday gift to web developers everywhere.

  1. Re: last comment. It is. I Googled. Still good news. IE8 is a workable browser, and will further move people away from IE6, and the new IE6 which is – of course – IE7 :P

  2. MS Picks & pans:

    Pick: IE conditional comments. Wish other browser had such targeting.

    Pan: IE browser dependent upon O/S. (IE9 != XP) … dumb.

    Half-pick: IE Auto-updating (where it can).

  3. Booyah! Never thought I’d see the day. Now if they would only increase the frequency of IE updates (a la Firefox and Chrome). But, I know, baby steps…

  4. High fives and spiked eggnog all around! My colleague had just informed us, and my initial response was “Best holiday gift ever!” Really happy to see the sentiment reflected amongst our community.

  5. I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a company that left automatic updates switched on, so I don’t see how this is going to change anything, sadly.

  6. Excuse me, but why exactly are you so happy about this? The current version of Internet Explorer has always been and is right now in the automatic Windows Update channel. If you install a Windows 7 on PC today and leave Windows Update in automatic mode, IE9 will install on your PC as well, as all the other important updates. The only difference is, that its setup is not silent, it will jump up and wait for your Next-Next-Finish button-pushing. The whole ‘wow, the-big-thing-we’ve-been-waiting-for’ looking announcement is about this dialog box. So far you could press cancel, but the real question is, if Joe Customer has ever done that, or went the Next-Next-Finish way automatically? If it’s the latter case, nothing’s gonna change.

    What would really matter, if Microsoft put the latest Internet Explorer in the forthcoming Service Packs for Vista and Windows 7. So, updating the system would mean the new IE silently installs on the computer. Even better, a new PC bought with preinstalled Windows having the latest service pack, would already have the latest IE as well. That would be a Christmas Miracle and an announcement to be happy about.

  7. I was, at first, excited as well. After reading their blog, how is this any different than previous upgrade strategies? I thought you could always update IE with Windows Update. In fact, as I installed and worked with virtual machines for cross browser testing, I had to opt-out of IE updates from Windows update (meaning that, by default, Windows Update would update my browser). Just like with every other announcement similar to this (like when IE8 came out), Microsoft has made a point to tell users how they can opt out.

    Ultimately, assuming by some miracle that nobody opts-out of updates, web developer now have to test against operating systems instead of browsers. Windows XP tops out at IE8. Vista will top out at IE9. Windows 7 will get updates for the foreseeable future, but we’ll presumably have a limit on how many versions of IE that Windows 7 will get. Since Windows 8 isn’t far off, unless Microsoft starts shipping less OS-dependent browsers, we’ll probably get to IE 10 or 11 with Windows 7 if the pattern holds fairly consistent.

    So, ultimately, the best we’re getting is to drop IE7 support if we assume most people don’t opt-out, but we end up on an OS-version support instead of a browser-version support, which sucks just as bad if you’ve ever tried cross browser test on Windows XP for IE7/8 then swap to a Windows 7 virtual machine for IE9 on a two-year-old laptop.

    So, how are we web developers any better off with this? If your answer includes IE6, you’re already behind the curve, but someone please tell my why I should still be excited about this after looking at the facts. Please, even Zeldman, if you think my outlook on this announcement is pessimistic, tell me why! I wanted so desperately this morning when I heard this news to believe my life as a web dev would get better, but all I see is the same old plan of dropping support for an old version of IE when the numbers drop low enough (unlike Chrome or Firefox where I assume the user is on the latest version). How are things any better today than yesterday?

  8. I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened in corporate IT.

  9. Sounded promising and may hoover up some IE6/7 diehards but on closer inspection there are multiple caveats – unfortunately web developer celebrations may be shortlived.

    First, businesses may opt out by using the free MS toolkits (for IE 7 to 9) to block automatic IE upgrade delivery. I guess a lot will opt out – if they haven’t upgraded yet they’re probably not going to now.

    Second, any user who has previously opted out of an IE upgrade via Windows Update will NOT be automatically updated next year – that rules out a lot more people.

    Third, anyone without auto updates on obviously won’t be upgraded either – there go the pirated XP Pro IE6 combos then…

    It’s a worthwhile move (should have been done years ago) but would be better done within IE rather than Windows updates.

  10. Finally, something that has sense for IE. I don’t know how thinks are going on MS, but they surely get their time to even duplicate a good idea … not talking on how long it takes for MS to get new good idea …

    Anyway, I like IE9 overall, so I can’t way to see what are they planning.

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