IE to Start Automatic Upgrades across Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7

Everyone benefits from an up-to-date browser.

Today we are sharing our plan to automatically upgrade Windows customers to the latest version of Internet Explorer available for their PC. This is an important step in helping to move the Web forward. We will start in January for customers in Australia and Brazil who have turned on automatic updating via Windows Update. Similar to our release of IE9 earlier this year, we will take a measured approach, scaling up over time.

As always, when upgrading from one version of Internet Explorer to the next through Windows Update, the user’s home page, search provider, and default browser remains unchanged.

Good for Consumers, Developers and Enterprises

The Web overall is better – and safer – when more people run the most up-to-date browser. Our goal is to make sure that Windows customers have the most up-to-date and safest browsing experience possible, with the best protections against malicious software such as malware.

For consumers, the safety benefits are one of the key reasons that the industry has been moving towards automatic updates as the norm. This is increasingly important since the biggest online threat these days is socially engineered malware, which typically targets outdated software like Web browsers. The latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, which is based on data from over 600 million systems in over 100 countries, is good reading to give you a sense of risks that stem from outdated software.

We want to make updating to the best protection possible as fast and simple as we can for Windows customers. IE is how millions of Windows customers connect to the Web, so keeping that part of Windows updated at all times is critical to keeping them safe online. With automatic updates enabled through Windows Update, customers can receive IE9 and future versions of Internet Explorer seamlessly without any “update fatigue” issues.

Wider deployment of the most up-to-date browser benefits the Web in other ways as well. Developers and online businesses can rely on better browsers to deliver richer and more capable Web experiences. We built IE9 with a focus on modern web standards and interoperability so that developers could spend less time coding for specific browsers and spend more time building the next big thing on the Web. More of the Web running an HTML5 capable browser, vs. something built ten years ago, is a great thing for developers and the businesses they support.

Respecting Customer Choice and Control

While the benefits of upgrading are numerous, we recognize that some organizations and individuals may want to opt-out and set their own upgrade pace. One of the things we’re committed to as we move to auto updates is striking the right balance for consumers and enterprises – getting consumers the most up-to-date version of their browser while allowing enterprises to update their browsers on their schedule. The Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 Automatic Update Blocker toolkits prevent automatic upgrades of IE for Windows customers who do not want them. Of course, we firmly believe that IE9 is the most compelling browser for business customers, and we want them to make the decision to upgrade at their convenience. Commercial customers can learn more about how this auto upgrade affects them here.

Similarly, customers who have declined previous installations of IE8 or IE9 through Windows Update will not be automatically updated. Customers have the ability to uninstall updates and continue to receive support for the version of IE that came with their copy of Windows. And similar to organizations, consumers can block the update all together and upgrade on their own. Finally, future versions of IE will provide an option in the product for consumers to opt out of automatic upgrading.

Peter Clarke, Chief Technology Officer for the Isle of Man government, recently talked about the importance of approach in moving the Web forward, while respecting customer choice:

“Getting people to use the latest browser version has many benefits, chief among them is that newer browsers have better security features and keep users safer. The Internet Explorer team’s balanced approach to helping people move to the latest version is a good idea. Not only does it help individual users, it also takes into consideration the needs of enterprises.”

Jeremiah Grossman, Chief Technology Officer and founder of WhiteHat Security agrees as well, saying…

“Automatic updates are a very good idea based on every piece of security research I’ve seen. Keeping software up to date – particularly Web browsers – is critical for online security. With that in mind, I’m pleased that Microsoft is moving toward an automatic update model, particularly since their approach balances the needs of enterprise customers who still need a mechanism to manage software updates.”

We are excited to help make the Web better by upgrading Windows customers to the latest version of Internet Explorer.

Ryan Gavin
General Manager, Internet Explorer Business and Marketing