Good news, everyone! Microsoft has decided that the time has come to make sure that all users of Internet Explorer are using the most current version possible. To accomplish that goal, they’re turning on automatic updates.
Yes, Internet Explorer patches and new major versions are already available via Windows Update. But to move from one version to the next, it’s never been a fully automatic process. There’s a separate install window that appears for installing, say, Internet Explorer 9. For many users, the additional steps required were often enough to prevent them from installing a new version.
And so from now on, Internet Explorer will quietly update itself just as Windows does. Starting in January, users in Australia and Brazil will be the begin receiving automatic IE updates. Microsoft will then gradually extend coverage to other parts of the world as time goes on.
Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s senior director for Internet Explorer, pointed out several benefits. The overall security of the Windows user community will be improved as outdated browsers are replaced, developers can focus their attention on building sites using modern web code, and those who surf with IE will be able to enjoy the full Beauty of the Web.
But Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about its enterprise customers — there won’t be an admin uproar like the one we saw when Mozilla shifted Firefox to a rapid release cycle. Just as they always have, Microsoft will continue to offer Internet Explorer blocker tools so that network administrators can deploy new browser versions once they’ve been fully tested and won’t cause any application compatibility issues.
There also won’t be any changes made to a user’s default search provider or home page. User preferences won’t be touched as part of this new Internet Explorer update process. You’ll simply be bumped to the most current version available for your version of Windows (IE9 on Vista and Windows 7, IE8 on Windows XP).
It certainly sounds like there’s no downside here. With today’s internet threat landscape, there’s no question that using an outdated browser is a fool’s errand. And you won’t find a web developer anywhere who’s sad to learn that Internet Explorer 6 (and even 7) will soon disappear from Windows XP machines around the globe.
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