Internet Explorer to upgrade automatically, unless you say no

Filed Under: Featured, Internet Explorer, Malware, Microsoft, Vulnerability

IE logoMicrosoft's Ryan Gavin announced a new strategy to keep the web safe... Keep your Internet Explorer up to date.

It is great news for Windows users who don't appreciate the importance of staying up to date.

Microsoft has been struggling with browser stragglers for years. They even ran their own campaign comparing IE 6 to spoiled milk including shameful infopr0n.

Old versions of IE leave a considerable number of users vulnerable to old exploits, or in their parlance easy targets.

If Microsoft updates everyone's browser how will companies like Google have their "Aurora" moments?

While bringing everyone up to Internet Explorer 9 is a great initiative, and doing so automatically will help things along, there are still some big issues ahead for Microsoft.

Their new policy seems to rest somewhere between Google Chrome's "You don't know it but you just upgraded major versions" and Mozilla Firefox's "You know that our weekly major revision is available, would you like it now? Would ya? Please?"

This could be a big problem for some enterprises that followed Microsoft's advice 10 years ago and adopted a fully-integrated, Active-X, .aspx, optimized for Internet Explorer 6 (or 7!) internal web application.

Most organizations that use Internet Explorer are stuck on older versions because of IE-only proprietary code, and the fact that you can only have one version of Internet Explorer installed at the same time.

It only takes one application. Which is why Microsoft introduced the Internet Explorer 8 and 9 upgrade blocker. This allows you to stay as stale as Internet Explorer 7 if you wish.

HTML 5 logoAustralians and Brazil will be the first to see the automatic upgrades in action, and users who have already said no to IE 8 or 9 will remain at their current version.

Good news for web developers, good news for security and most of all a demonstration of why open standards are such a good idea.

We could all be running Chrome 36 if it wasn't for that darned Active-X control for Accounting...

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9 Responses to Internet Explorer to upgrade automatically, unless you say no

  1. Richard · 956 days ago

    "... stuck on older versions because of IE-only proprietary code, ..."

    Or the fact that they're running Windows XP, which doesn't support IE9.

    • You could use "compatability mode" to fix any display quirks. And it is a bother that the last version of Internet Explorer for XP is Internet Explorer 8, which does NOT support HTML5 :(.

    • Chester Wisniewski · 955 days ago

      With less than 800 days of support left, it is in everyone's best interest to abandon XP. Poor? Load Linux Mint. Gamer? Upgrade to 7. Hater? Get a Mac. There are better answers to the problem.

      • Wendy · 933 days ago

        Yes, there are better answers, BUT when you have companies who refused to upgrade their proprietary software to run on Vista and are behind the bandwagon of now upgrading it to run on Windows 7, then you are kinda stuck with XP until they get off their duffs and catch up with the technology or else you don't have a job.

  2. But how about those running "illegal" OS? They won't be able to update to IE9, unless Microsoft is so generous to provide IE9 for illegal users.

    • Richard Hodgson · 5354 days ago

      This has been a sticking point before, especially in China, where there are a lot of people running pirated versions of Windows and antivirus software and are hideously out of date thanks to software companies only wanting to update genuine copies.

      Which is fine until those machines are compromised and used to attack those of us who have paid for our software. The problem is that there is no way to really fix this without opening up updates to pirates.

  3. Jim Dandy · 955 days ago

    Die IE 6 and XP! Die!

  4. Emma · 955 days ago

    About time everyone stopped using (any) Internet Explorer browser. I've been using Firefox for last 5 years or so and it's the default browser I prefer; before Firefox I did use IE but only because the only other option (at the time) was Netscape and/or Opera.

    Thank God for Firefox I say, however I see more people using Google Chrome or Safari (on Windows) which are great alternatives to Firefox (more or less), so let's really give IE a good kicking and let's not see anymore (buggy?) updates or releases in the future.

  5. Tim Ridgway · 952 days ago

    As a web designer, I think this is excellent news. I would hate to say how many weeks of my life have been wasted making fully working websites backwards compatible with IE7 (I gave up on IE6 a long time ago!).

    Maybe we can soon get on with the job of actually making websites, rather than bug fixing for a small but significant bunch of people who can't/won't upgrade or switch to a modern browser.

    Thank you Microsoft.

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About the author

Chester Wisniewski is a Senior Security Advisor at Sophos Canada. He provides advice and insight into the latest threats for security and IT professionals with the goal of providing clear guidance on complex topics. You can follow Chester on Twitter as @chetwisniewski, on App.net as Chester, Chester Wisniewski on Google Plus or send him an email at chesterw@sophos.com.