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FAQ: Microsoft's new IE auto-upgrade scheme explained

Who gets what, how to block the upgrade, and more

December 19, 2011 06:44 AM ET

Computerworld - Last week Microsoft announced it is changing how Internet Explorer upgrades on Windows users' PCs in 2012. Taking users out of the equation, Microsoft said, will make the Web, and them, safer.

The move is a major departure from past practice, which required users to explicitly approve IE upgrades.

While experts have applauded the change, users aren't so sure: Most of the comments appended to Computerworld's story of last week were negative. Maybe they're not sure if it affects them, or when it will reach their PCs.

Or they just don't like Microsoft monkeying with their machines.

We've assembled some of the most pressing questions -- and answers, naturally -- about IE's auto-upgrade to help readers sort it out for themselves.

Will my copy of Internet Explorer get upgraded? That depends.

It will if you're using Windows XP and still running IE6 or IE7 and you have automatic updates switched on in Windows Update and you haven't clicked "Don't Install" on earlier, explicit upgrade offers. In that case, Microsoft will automatically turn your IE6 or IE7 into IE8.

The same goes for Vista and Windows 7 running IE7 or IE8: If you have automatic updates switched on in Windows Update and you haven't out-and-out declined earlier offers, you'll get IE9.

What if I just ignored the IE upgrade pitches I've seen previously on my screen? Microsoft said "customers who have declined previous installations" will not get the auto-upgrade, so it sounds like unless you definitely said "No" you're in the upgrade pool.

That means if you simply closed the offer windows without making a choice, or you've been religiously clicking on "Ask me later" since then, you're upgrade fodder.

Microsoft made those offers via Windows Update for IE8 starting in April 2009, and for IE9 beginning in April 2011.

When will Microsoft upgrade my copy of IE? Good question.

Australian and Brazilian users will be first in line, and will see their browsers upgraded some time next month.

As for everyone else, Microsoft isn't saying. "We will take a measured approach, scaling up over time," Ryan Gavin, head of IE marketing, said last week. Microsoft later declined to state a timetable for users in the U.S.

Will I get a warning of some sort before they start upgrading in my country? We don't know.

But in the past, Microsoft has given corporate customers 30-day warnings before serving up major upgrades like Windows and Office service packs. It could do the same prior to firing up IE auto-upgrades.

I'm using Windows XP. Does this mean Microsoft will upgrade my browser to IE9? No.

IE9 won't run on XP; that's a decision Microsoft made during its development, claiming that it was unwilling to compromise on the browser to make it run on the decade-old OS.

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