Microsoft will automatically push Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) out to users via automatic updates beginning next week, the company announced on its IEBlog.
Though not a surprise, the move does require that IT decision makers and consumers decide whether or not to block the downloads. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) began shipping IE8 in mid-March.
If customers who use Microsoft automatic updates don’t block the downloads, they still have a choice whether or not to install IE8, according to the blog. If they later decide to upgrade, they can do so manually.
With IE8, the company received accolades for providing more extensive support for Internet standards. However, due to that support, many sites that have been tweaked to support quirks in earlier versions of IE, no longer display correctly. While Microsoft made several changes, including a list of sites that need special settings that IE8 can check, that still leaves some sites out.
So while Microsoft is moving to get as many users as possible to adopt IE8 as quickly as possible, it also realizes that many customers, particularly corporate IT shops, need to perform testing and generate deployment plans for their organizations before they actually deploy IE8.
To help with that process, Microsoft began providing a free toolkit to block downloads of the new browser in January. The toolkit does not have an expiration date.
“Last week, we released IE8 via Automatic Update to users still running pre-release versions of IE8 (Beta 2 or Release Candidate 1). The goal was to make sure users who chose to install IE8 have the latest up-to-date version,” Eric Hebenstreit, lead program manager for IE8, said in a post on the IEBlog on Friday.
As time goes on, Microsoft will expand the distribution of IE8 to a broader set of users.
“Starting on or about the third week of April, users still running IE6 or IE7 on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, or Windows Server 2008 will get will get a notification through Automatic Update about IE8,” Hebenstreit added.
Users will not be forced to install IE8. When they go to start the browsers they will be presented with a range of options: check back later, install immediately, or avoid installing entirely.