Microsoft gets silent upgrade religion, will push IE auto-updates
Copies Chrome and follows Firefox to get users onto the newest browser without asking permission
Computerworld - Microsoft today said it will silently upgrade Internet Explorer (IE) starting next month, arguing that taking the responsibility out of the hands of users will keep the Web safer.
The move is an acknowledgement by Microsoft that Google's model -- its Chrome browser has updated in the background without user involvement since it debuted more than three years ago -- is the right one.
"It's the future ... for all software," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security. "At this point, at least in the consumer space, people are expecting software to be up to date, and for it to do it itself."
Microsoft must agree. Beginning in January it will roll out automatic upgrades of IE to the newest version suitable for a user's version of Windows. Windows XP users still on IE6 or IE7, for example, will be updated to IE8; Windows Vista or Windows 7 users running IE7 or IE8 will be pushed to IE9.
Previously, Microsoft has asked for user permission before upgrading IE from one version to the next, even if Windows' automatic updates are enabled.
The company will debut the new practice in Australia and Brazil next month, then expand the program gradually to other markets. Microsoft declined today to set a timetable for U.S. users.
"I think auto-updating is a great step in the right direction for Microsoft," said Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer at Qualys, and someone who has urged Microsoft to institute silent upgrades since 2009. "I see this as an acknowledgement that auto-updating has worked very well, at least as far as a single component, like a browser, goes."
While Chrome is the only browser that currently upgrades to the next version without asking users for permission, Mozilla is working on doing the same with Firefox.
Originally hoping to add background updates to Firefox 10, Mozilla has recently pushed back the schedule and now aims to finalize the feature in Firefox 12, slated to ship April 24, 2012.
Microsoft's scheme differs from Mozilla's, however, in that the company will let enterprises retain control of upgrades, and from Google's, which offers no opt-out for consumers. Microsoft will also not force updates on consumers who have already declined earlier offers to abandon an older IE.
Under its plan, IE will be silently upgraded only to those users who have opted in to automatic updates on the Windows Update service.
"[And] customers who have declined previous installations of IE8 or IE9 through Windows Update will not be automatically updated," Microsoft promised in a Thursday blog post.
Enterprises running WSUS (Windows Server Update Service), the most popular business patching and updating tool, or other patch management systems will not be affected.
"They're basically saying that if you set group policies through WSUS [to block automatic upgrades] that they're not going to override that," said Storms.
Companies and individuals can also deploy the blocking toolkits that Microsoft had previously crafted for both IE8 and IE9 to stymie any auto-updating. Those kits can be downloaded from Microsoft's website.
In future editions of IE -- meaning IE10 and beyond -- Microsoft will include an opt-out setting that users can select to disable automatic upgrades. While Chrome does not have such a setting, Firefox will when it eventually launches silent updates.
Both Storms and Kandek thought that Microsoft hit the right balance between its desire to get consumers on the newest IE and its traditional conservatism where enterprises are concerned.
- Workarounds to purge search bar from Firefox's new tab page are available
- Mozilla ships Firefox 31, adds search to new tab page
- Microsoft's IE steps back from the brink of irrelevance
- Firefox falters, falls to record low in overall browser share
- Firefox risks user backlash by adding search box to new tab page
- Google unseats Microsoft as the U.S. browser powerhouse
- Safari, Chrome push to mask URLs
- Chrome on Windows champs at the 64-bit
- Google pulls trigger, cripples some Chrome add-ons
- Microsoft shoots to shorten Internet Explorer's long tail
- Architects lead the next generation of data-driven applications Read this whitepaper to find out how application architects can quickly and confidently deliver long-lasting applications that minimize cost, complexity, and risk while...
- HTTP Status Code Cheat Sheet Look at the Graph, Find the Code and Boom - You're Solving Problems. Identifying and understanding common HTTP status codes can go a...
- Simple Solution, Big Capability Meet growing employee and business demands by connecting up to 1,000 users with powerful collaboration capabilities with a single, integrated platform -- Cisco...
- The Business Value of Continuous Delivery Download this whitepaper to learn more about the business value of Continuous Delivery and see why it could be a game changer for...
- Maximizing Availability for the Modern Data Center Check out this information-packed resource center for help in maximizing the availability of your data center - from overcoming challenges to choosing the...
- Business-driven data protection Setting up data protection infrastructures with your organizations' core mission or business in mind is key. In this webinar, the ARCserve team will... All Desktop Apps White Papers | Webcasts