Feeds

Microsoft disables automatic IE 8 downloads

It's for your own good

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Microsoft will cushion you from the Internet Explorer 8 standards mess with software to prevent automatic download of its next browser to your machine.

The company has released an IE8 Blocker Toolkit that will stop users installing IE8 via its Automatic Update service before compatibility testing has been finished.

Microsoft's IE8 Blocker Toolkit will prevent Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 users from getting IE8 as a "high priority" and those on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 getting IE 8 as an "important update." Instead, IE 8 will arrive as an optional install.

Microsoft said it's delivering the toolkit because - despite its own testing - "IT organizations will still want to test the browser before it is deployed."

IE blocker toolkits are not a new idea and have been introduced before by Microsoft. The thinking is that organizations can test new versions of IE against their own applications before they roll out the new software on PCs and servers to ensure compatibility and no breaking changes.

IE8, though, faces a unique challenge. For the first time, regular users - never mind employees accessing their companies' unique applications or other online properties - might not be able to view millions of ordinary sites online using a new version of Microsoft's browser.

The problem centers on the fact that IE 8 has been built to support web standards, a major departure from the past. Microsoft has decided that IE8 should also support the legacy of sites built to render using non-standards compatible IE. It's doing this by offering users the ability to view web sites using a "default mode" (for standards viewing) and a "compatibility view" (to view old sites).

The idea was users could switch between both.

The problem is: Early betas have found users are not switching modes and are instead viewing all sites using the wrong mode. Others report that even in default mode, the same sites they visit don't always render properly, so sometimes they work and other times they don't.

Some major web sites, meanwhile, have not heeded Microsoft's advice to test they work with IE8 in default standards mode or they have not added a special tag or HTTP header to their site that would instruct IE8 to view the site in compatible-view mode.

All this has combined to help push back IE8, with a third beta now due this year.

In a sign of the scale of the problem, Microsoft said the IE 8 Blocker does not have an expiration date. That means that until there's an official change of policy by Microsoft, users will not be getting IE 8 by default and will need to go on installing the software themselves.

Given the fact that automatic updates are a slick way to drive uptake of new software because it requires a minimum of effort by the end user, that's bound to delay uptake of IE8. That could help see IE's overall market share further eroded while Firefox and Safari continue their steady gains, based on either smooth download and update processes or growing sale of Macs and iPhones.

The saving grace could be IE8 beta testers. Microsoft's blocker toolkit won't block the final version of IE8 being offered to users who've have got pre-release versions of IE8 on their machines. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.