Microsoft tags IE 7 'high priority' update

Browser update will be delivered automatically to Windows XP users, but those who don't want it can opt out.

Microsoft plans to automatically push Internet Explorer 7 to Windows XP users when the browser update is ready later this year.

IE 7 will be delivered in the fourth quarter as a "high priority" update via Automatic Updates in Windows XP, Gary Schare, Microsoft's director of IE product management, said in an interview Tuesday. Automatic Updates is a Windows feature typically used for security updates, but Microsoft has also used it to push its antipiracy tool WGA Notifications.

"The justification, of course, is the significant security enhancements in IE 7," Schare said. Microsoft recommends that all Windows users install the new browser when it ships, he added.

IE 7 installation

IE 7 will be the first major update to Microsoft's ubiquitous Web browser in five years. Security was the No. 1 investment for the update, Microsoft has said. Critics have likened predecessor IE 6 to "Swiss cheese" because of the many security vulnerabilities in it. A third and final beta of IE 7 was released late last month.

Although IE 7 will be pushed out over Automatic Updates, people will be able to choose whether they want to install it or not, Schare said. Automatic Updates will first notify people when IE 7 is ready to install and then show a welcome screen that presents key features and the choices to install, not install or postpone installation.

Additionally, Microsoft on Wednesday plans to make available a special tool to block automatic delivery of the new browser version, Schare said. The tool is meant for business users who might not be ready for an IE update. Microsoft learned a lesson about this when it pushed out Service Pack 2 for Windows XP via the update function.

"Many enterprises out there have some users rely on Automatic Updates," Schare said. "Those typically want to have tighter management of any software that is going to do more than just patch a security vulnerability."

The free Internet Explorer 7 Blocker Toolkit will not expire and includes a template for use with Microsoft systems management software. It will be available from Microsoft's Download Center Web site, Schare said. "We're really trying to get the world ready for a major new browser release," he said.

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