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John Esposito edits Refcardz at DZone, while writing a dissertation on ancient Greek philosophy and raising two cats. In a previous life he was a database developer and network administrator. John is a DZone Zone Leader and has posted 320 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Hallelujah! IE Will Now Upgrade Automatically

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Remember when you had to write everything twice because zillions of non-web-savvy users were using old versions of IE? and even though IE9 supported way more web standards than earlier versions, it didn't matter because so many Windows users still hadn't upgraded?

No more.

For Microsoft announced today that Internet Explorer will begin to update automatically with Windows.

From their official blogpost:

Today we are sharing our plan to automatically upgrade Windows customers to the latest version of Internet Explorer available for their PC. This is an important step in helping to move the Web forward. We will start in January for customers in Australia and Brazil who have turned on automatic updating via Windows Update. Similar to our release of IE9 earlier this year, we will take a measured approach, scaling up over time.

So if the user has an up-to-date Windows -- and for many Win2k+ users, Windows already updates automatically -- then the user will have an up-to-date browser. At least once the change spreads beyond Australia and Brazil.

This is a big deal: automatic IE updates should go a long way to cleaning up the 'browser market pollution', as Paul Irish called it:

So it's fair to say that for most of us, IE6 has gone the way of the dodo. Good! Now in IE7, we have less CSS issues, working PNGs, but pretty much the exact same JavaScript engine (though faster). IE8 gives a few more goodies (localStorage, postMessage, hashchange event) that'll be nice to use when we retire IE7, but IE8 will be with us for a while.

One of Paul's major points in that post will, unfortunately remain true for a while: Windows XP doesn't support anything higher than IE8, and 38% of web users still run WinXP.

But as of October, when Windows 7 beat it, WinXP is now a minority among Windows users. So automatic IE updates really will bring a lot of browsers up to IE9, at least, and presumably IE10, once it leaves beta.

For more details, read the full announcement.

And, web developers, rejoice! for (some of) your IE headaches will (soon) fade away.


Otengi Miloskov replied on Thu, 2011/12/15 - 11:54pm


Andy Stannard replied on Fri, 2011/12/16 - 4:47am

It would be nice, but my thoughts are that most of the remaining IE6 installs reside in large corporations and government departments. These are controlled by weary IT departments that restrict access to automatic upgrades and have no interest in upgrading Internet Explorer. I wish it does work, I just don's see it making much of a dint in the older browser install numbers.

John Esposito replied on Fri, 2011/12/16 - 12:34pm in response to: Andy Stannard

Interesting. Why do you think large corps and gov depts account for most of the remaining IE6 installs?

I'm not doubting, just wondering how we would know (or conjecture).

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