Microsoft: Switch to IE9, get free stuff

Tries to pump up new edition's numbers on Windows 7

Microsoft on Friday launched a promotion to convince more Windows 7 users to adopt Internet Explorer 9 (IE9).

Windows 7 users who download Microsoft's newest browser, then "pin" any of seven different websites to their taskbars, receive offers that range from a free month of Hulu Plus to a $5-off Fandango movie ticket.

Some of the offers are available immediately, while others launch later this month and during December.

When people running alternate browsers such as Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox on Windows 7 visit the promotional site, they see the message, "Where's the love? ... Upgrade to Internet Explorer to pin these sites and get the free stuff."

Pinning, introduced in IE9, lets users add website shortcuts to the Windows 7 task bar for the same kind of easy access as locally-stored programs.

Users running Mac OS X who visit the free offers site see a different message: "Oh Nooooooo... You're using Mac OS which doesn't support Internet Explorer 9 and Site Pinning."

Windows XP users -- still the most widely-used version of Microsoft's operating system -- cannot upgrade to IE9. Microsoft has defended that ban even as IE's share has continued falling, calling the decade-old OS the "lowest common denominator" and not worthy of future browser development.

Microsoft has been aggressively pushing IE9 as the best browser for Windows 7, and has regularly touted that edition's gains in usage share even as other versions lose ground to Chrome and Apple's Safari.

According to Web metrics company Net Applications, IE9 accounted for 22.5% of the browsers running worldwide on Windows 7 during October, an increase of 1.4 percentage points from the month before. Only Microsoft's own IE8 sported a higher share.

Last month, IE overall lost the largest amount of usage share in three years, falling to 52.6%, putting Microsoft's browser in danger of slipping under the 50% mark as early as January 2012.

MSFT holiday offer
Microsoft's tempting users into running IE9 by offering them free stuff if they change browsers.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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