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IE8 beta 2 locks down some XP lovers

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Windows XP fans who have installed Service Pack 3 (SP3) after downloading Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) beta 1 won’t be able to downgrade their browser if they subsequently install IE8 beta 2.

Microsoft warned XP users of the annoying lockdown after launching the second beta of IE8 on Wednesday.

“The only time we encourage you to manually uninstall Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 prior to upgrading to IE8 Beta 2 for Windows XP users is if you happened to install Windows XP SP3 after installing IE8 Beta 1,” said the company’s program manger Jane Maliouta.

“You will be able to install Internet Explorer 8 Beta2, but once installed, you will not be able to uninstall either IE8 or Windows XP SP3 later. The Setup Wizard will warn you prior to installation."

The IE8 beta 2 installer detects when a machine is running the previous test version of the browser and automatically uninstalls it.

Maliouta warned that "if you choose to continue, Windows XP SP3 and IE8 Beta 2 will become permanent". She offered a convoluted work-around that requires users to uninstall XP SP3, then remove IE8 beta 1, reinstall XP SP3 and finally load up IE8 beta 2.

Bit time-consuming, don’t you think? Ultimately, Microsoft is only at the tentative testing stage with the latest version of its Firefox browser, which this week scored plenty of splashy coverage. Redmond has promised to cough up a complete version of IE8 sometime in January next year.

In the meantime some XP lovers might want to sit this one out, unless of course you’re happy to live with an incomplete version of the browser. At least you’ll be safe in the knowledge you can wipe yourself clean after every sticky shopping online session. ®

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