Microsoft to Push IE 7.0 via Automatic Updates

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 07-26-2006
Microsoft plans to use its Automatic Updates patch-distribution service to push its stand-alone Internet Explorer 7.0 browser to customers once the product is ready to ship in the fourth quarter of this year.

But just as it did with a couple of service packs—most notably Windows XP Service Pack 2—Microsoft will provide corporations with a way to block IE 7.0's distribution so they can control when and if the product is distributed to their users. And unlike the case with previous "blocker tools," the one for IE 7.0 will not bake in a preset download deadline. As a result, corporations can set IE 7.0 to download on any date in the future they choose, Microsoft officials said.

Because of the myriad security fixes incorporated into the product, Microsoft plans to designate IE 7.0 as a "high priority" update, officials said. But users and administrators will be prompted to opt in and accept the IE 7.0 download; it won't happen automatically without notification, Microsoft officials stressed. Users who have opted to hide access to IE won't be presented with the download option at all, officials said.

To obtain the IE 7 code, users will be required to validate that they are running a nonpirated version of Windows, via Microsoft's WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) authentication mechanism.

Microsoft has come under fire as of late for pushing technologies to users via Automatic Updates without their knowledge. Microsoft used Automatic Updates to quietly deliver the recently introduced WGA Notification tool—which was "phoning home" from users' systems to Microsoft on a daily basis—resulting in outcry from many customers and company watchers.

Directions on Microsoft analyst Michael Cherry said he'd prefer Microsoft to deliver IE 7.0 via another mechanism, not Automatic Updates.

"AU [Automatic Updates] is for security fixes for which there is an imminent danger, ones for which the threat of an exploit is so great that users can't risk not running them," Cherry said. "They need some other kind of site where users can easily find and choose the code they want downloaded."

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