Microsoft explains what automatic IE updates mean for businesses

On Thursday, Microsoft announced that it would begin automatic updates to its Internet Explorer web browser for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 starting in 2012. But what do these plans mean for large businesses who use IE and their version of Windows across hundreds, if not thousands, of PCs? Microsoft attempted to answer that question in a new Springboard Series blog post.

According to Microsoft's Stephen L. Rose:

We understand that companies have business reasons to rely on a one specific version of the browser and they need support. The auto-upgrade mechanism doesn’t change the support lifecycle of the browser – an Internet Explorer version will continue to be supported until the underlying OS it ships on expires. This means that if you’ve taken a dependency on a particular version of Internet Explorer, the support for that version doesn’t end simply because of the introduction of the auto-upgrade mechanism.

Rose also states that the IE Blocker Tool will still be in place for businesses who don't want to immediately upgrade their version of the browser. He says:

The IE9 Blocker Toolkit helps ensure that IE9 is introduced to PCs at the right time. This way you can still test any updates before they are pushed out to your users. For non-managed environments, this will improve safety and security of the browser experience as well as performance and standards compliance. Lastly, if some users are accidentally upgraded, it’s possible to roll back to previous version of Internet Explorer as well.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

iPhone A5 now made deep in the heart of Texas

Next Story

Zynga IPO launches today at $10 a share

25 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

This feature was needed since a long time nw. It is an excellent way to kill the market share of old outdated versions of IE and to make the life of Web Developers a bit easy! A great decision by Microsoft.

Emon said,
XP Mode .. enough said ..

If only it were that simple. You can not turn an unsecured VM lose on the enterprise and expect them to conduct business in there dealing with sensitive information (confidential, pii, phi) when you know the security woes of XP. The only option is MED-V, but that is not a magic bullet either as once you get it to adhere to your security model and working in your infrastructure, it is bloated and cumbersome. It doesn't solve all your problems either.

All the while you are hearing hurry, gimme and why is it taking so long. Remember, most companies in this situation are NOT IT companies so they are hesitant to fund IT even though the systems they rely on are provided by IT. Stockholders want returns, not fancy systems. It sucks, but that is business and it will not change.

Yes, I am fighting this all right now and losing what was left of my hair in the process.

zeke009 said,

....

no edit option on my phone, but one more thing. Once med-v is ready, you need buy in on increase in managed machines.

100,000 managed devices
40,000 med-v targets
140,000 managed devices

Can handle it?

Brian Miller said,
What about auto-upgrading IE to Chrome?
That'll fix the internet.

And that solves the company software that depends on IE6 how exactly?

DavidM said,

And that solves the company software that depends on IE6 how exactly?

They had years to work that out, so now it is their problem to figure out. There are no excuses for waiting this long.

IE's marketshare would skyrocket with that. And this update was expected to occur several months ago.

No... dont release the blocker tool.... let everyone update to the latest IE... sick of people using Ie6, Ie7 and IE8(unless XP)

still1 said,
No... dont release the blocker tool.... let everyone update to the latest IE... sick of people using Ie6, Ie7 and IE8(unless XP)

... and those companies whose internal business systems are built for a specific browser?

AnthonySterling said,

... and those companies whose internal business systems are built for a specific browser?

Port those systems to the new browser, it's about time.

AnthonySterling said,

... and those companies whose internal business systems are built for a specific browser?

There comes a time when a business needs to realise when it is time to upgrade... especially when using old and outdated systems can compromise security.

Any company relying on IE6 now has had long enough to set aside money to update their systems.

This decision by Microsoft is fantastic but I agree with still1... they should make these updates mandatory.

DChiuch said,

Port those systems to the new browser, it's about time.

Thanks for volunteering to do the porting work. We need it done without any downtime to our existing systems, without the need to retrain our staff and you will be doing it for free I take it?

kdg said,

There comes a time when a business needs to realise when it is time to upgrade... especially when using old and outdated systems can compromise security.

Any company relying on IE6 now has had long enough to set aside money to update their systems.

This decision by Microsoft is fantastic but I agree with still1... they should make these updates mandatory.

The problem there is that it is quite expensive to port legacy systems to contemporay technology and in times of economic distress around the world, it won't happen (usually IT is the first place companies cut the budget).

Also, it is very rare for a business to migrate working plataforms. It only happens when the cost of maintaining it will become bigger than the cost of moving to a new technology (there are still plenty of mainframe applications around the world for instance).

sviola said,

The problem there is that it is quite expensive to port legacy systems to contemporay technology and in times of economic distress around the world, it won't happen (usually IT is the first place companies cut the budget).

Also, it is very rare for a business to migrate working plataforms. It only happens when the cost of maintaining it will become bigger than the cost of moving to a new technology (there are still plenty of mainframe applications around the world for instance).

And they are the first to cry foul, when their old, outdated, unsupported, unsecure system gets tanked.

"40 gazillion dollars of loses to our budget due to hackers." Business need to change or die, those who stand still get left behind.

AnthonySterling said,
... and those companies whose internal business systems are built for a specific browser?
What quirks or features does IE6 support that IE8 does not, but businesses rely upon?

I realize that there may be display bugs that appear from upgrading, but, functionally, I doubt anything will happen except for speed and compatibility improvements. ActiveX is still there, and really that's about the only thing that I can imagine a business truly needs IE for, but I still fall back to asking what makes IE6 special for this purpose beyond laziness?

I also tend to be with everyone else: companies have seen the writing on the walls for awhile, and IE6 support should have ended a long time ago, when XP was slated to be discontinued. It's only by chance that IE6 is still supported because XP had its drop-dead date pushed further out.

niner said,

Thanks for volunteering to do the porting work. We need it done without any downtime to our existing systems, without the need to retrain our staff and you will be doing it for free I take it?

How much downtime and money lost do you risk if your system gets a virus or your customer records are stolen? Is if worth the risk just to avoid spending money and time to upgrade every now and then? Technology is probably the most misunderstood item that all buisnesses use. If its not broke don't fix it right? Well, got news for you, IE6 is broke.

sviola said,
usually IT is the first place companies cut the budget

Funny how the systems that companies rely on most are also the first to get budget cuts. Perhaps cutting executive compensation instead? Oh wait, our systems are outdated and full of security holes, but the world would end if our CEO had to drive to the office.

niner said,
Thanks for volunteering to do the porting work. We need it done without any downtime to our existing systems, without the need to retrain our staff and you will be doing it for free I take it?

Yeah, that excuse doesn't work anymore. Also, good luck getting someone to do it for free. You've had YEARS to do this. There is no excuse anymore.

Zimmedon said,

Yeah, that excuse doesn't work anymore. Also, good luck getting someone to do it for free. You've had YEARS to do this. There is no excuse anymore.

Clearly you aren't in any type of administrative role in a large business environment. Not only are the costs sometimes MILLIONS in upgrading, you've also got to retrain thousands of users, which also costs money... documentation materials, hours required getting acquainted to the new system, a body (or team) to train them, new licences for each computer needing upgraded from XP to 7 so IE9 can run (another few million... as it's not like every computer is new either).

Why should corps spend all this money when the current setup works just fine and costs virtually nothing to maintain, as opposed to spending a crapload just to be "current". Security risks are also minimal as a properly administered environment works just fine.

The golden rule... if it ain't broke, don't fix it shines true.

shockz said,

Clearly you aren't in any type of administrative role in a large business environment. Not only are the costs sometimes MILLIONS in upgrading, you've also got to retrain thousands of users, which also costs money... documentation materials, hours required getting acquainted to the new system, a body (or team) to train them, new licences for each computer needing upgraded from XP to 7 so IE9 can run (another few million... as it's not like every computer is new either).

Why should corps spend all this money when the current setup works just fine and costs virtually nothing to maintain, as opposed to spending a crapload just to be "current". Security risks are also minimal as a properly administered environment works just fine.

The golden rule... if it ain't broke, don't fix it shines true.

Because a lot of these corps pull in ungodly amounts of money and they **** it away with their greedy and inefficient practices. I work in corporate IT and I know for a fact while there can be some very trivial issues, there is a lot of times being wasted sitting around waiting for **** to complete.

Companies are inefficient and that is the main problem. And it's so stupid because most places have brilliant people work at them. If 10,000 PC need to be upgraded to Windows 7, there are people that can make it possible. They can make plans over long term. They can make sure images are setup with everything the employee needs to get work done is easily accessible from the desktop once they sign-in. Costs can be factored in; They certainly would if it was something the company really wanted. Even minimal security concerns should be taken account for when dealing with potentially sensitive customer data.

wixostrix said,

Because a lot of these corps pull in ungodly amounts of money and they **** it away with their greedy and inefficient practices. I work in corporate IT and I know for a fact while there can be some very trivial issues, there is a lot of times being wasted sitting around waiting for **** to complete.

Companies are inefficient and that is the main problem. And it's so stupid because most places have brilliant people work at them. If 10,000 PC need to be upgraded to Windows 7, there are people that can make it possible. They can make plans over long term. They can make sure images are setup with everything the employee needs to get work done is easily accessible from the desktop once they sign-in. Costs can be factored in; They certainly would if it was something the company really wanted. Even minimal security concerns should be taken account for when dealing with potentially sensitive customer data.

What about companies like mine... that don't pull in MILLIONS that we can spend on IT. I don't even have a yearly budget. I was told by my COO that it's $0. If I need to buy anything, even a printer, or a replacement machine, I need to get it approved. If I even suggested upgrading most or all of our computers to Windows 7, or even our servers to 2008 R2, I'd be told to find another job. Granted, the company I work for pulls in a lot of money, but that's reinvested into building repairs and purchasing new dealerships.

Also... we rely on other companies (like Honda, and Mercedes-Benz, etc.) who design their own websites. Try going to dealerspeed.net for BMW, and getting the site to work correctly on IE9... or getting BMW's KeyReader software to work on Windows 7 64-bit. Impossible...

giantsnyy said,

What about companies like mine... that don't pull in MILLIONS that we can spend on IT. I don't even have a yearly budget. I was told by my COO that it's $0. If I need to buy anything, even a printer, or a replacement machine, I need to get it approved. If I even suggested upgrading most or all of our computers to Windows 7, or even our servers to 2008 R2, I'd be told to find another job. Granted, the company I work for pulls in a lot of money, but that's reinvested into building repairs and purchasing new dealerships.

Also... we rely on other companies (like Honda, and Mercedes-Benz, etc.) who design their own websites. Try going to dealerspeed.net for BMW, and getting the site to work correctly on IE9... or getting BMW's KeyReader software to work on Windows 7 64-bit. Impossible...

This is why companies need to understand the importance of funding IT. Money should be getting put aside for it. If everyone had their stuff together there wouldn't be concerns about things not working across different companies. I know it's a dream world, but it's really how it should be.