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IE users note NT install caveat

Users in general are favorable about IE 4.0 but have concerns about the degree to which Microsoft is warning them about an installation problem.

A week after the release of Internet Explorer 4.0, users in general are favorable about the product but have concerns about the degree to which Microsoft (MSFT) is warning them about an installation problem.

Several people reporting problems in public IE 4.0 shakes industry Usenet groups have gone on to say they like the product. This user's comment seemed to sum up the general attitude so far: "My point is [that] IE 4 works. It's simply a matter of patience and software compatibility and keeping your system up to date."

The direst reports have come from NT 4.0 users who have installed IE 4.0 only to suffer system crashes and data loss. NT 4.0 requires the installation of a service pack to run IE 4.0; warnings to this effect are on the IE 4.0 download page and also pop up during the Active Setup installation process when the user is running NT 4, according to Microsoft.

But another warning is presented only as a recommendation. One user who had to rebuild two systems entirely admitted that he had neglected to uninstall the IE 4.0 beta, a process Microsoft "recommends" for both Windows 95 and NT in the documentation and on its Web site. Still, the user felt the process should have been more foolproof.

"It should have automatically detected the beta and either removed it, offered to, or recommended it be done manually," the user wrote in an email. "Trashing someone's computer and then blaming them for not having read the 'instructions' is not particularly good PR."

A Microsoft spokeswoman acknowledged that the company found problems with the final code and that there are risks to installing the final version over the beta.

"Once the code was final, there were some issues with it, enough to warrant a recommendation [to uninstall the beta]," the spokeswoman said. "But it really isn't a broad problem. If we get more complaints, we will have more public knowledge posted on the Web site."

Others who have had more minor problems nonetheless recommend deactivating IE 4.0's Active Desktop feature, which allows users to pull updated information from the Internet. Some users are concerned that the Active Desktop is slowing down their systems as it runs in the background. Microsoft acknowledges that the feature requires more memory--at least 16MB of memory on Windows 95--and processing power. If performance problems persist, users can easily deactivate it.

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