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Microsoft eases back on IE 8 default

The software titan adjusts its installer so that users will always be asked if they want to switch their default browser to version 8 of Internet Explorer.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
For people who've set other browsers set as default, the IE 8 installer now always asks whether they want to make IE the new default.
For people who've set other browsers set as default, the IE 8 installer now always asks whether they want to make IE the new default. Microsoft

Responding to widespread carping, Microsoft has made it less likely that Internet Explorer 8 will become the default browser against the user's wishes.

Previously, installing the browser offered an "express settings" that would make IE 8 the default browser without asking, though the custom settings route explicitly asked. Now the express settings will ask, too, Microsoft announced Thursday on its IEBlog.

"IE will never install, or become the default browser without your explicit consent. However, we heard a lot of feedback from a lot of different people and groups and decided to make the user choice of the default browser even more explicit," Microsoft said. Those who already have IE 8 set as default won't see the screen.

The change won't be built into the regular IE 8 installation, but instead will arrive as an update during the process beginning mid-August. The IE 8 installer asks users if they want to check for updates when they install, and 90 percent do so, Microsoft said.

One rival, Mozilla Chief Executive John Lilly, praised the move. "Good change: Microsoft does the right thing (finally) with IE8 updater," he said in a Thursday Twitter post.