IE8 automatic update option likely to begin next week

In a heads-up message on the company's IE blog over the Easter weekend, Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 lead program manager Eric Hebenstreit warned users that as soon as next week, some Windows users will be automatically given the option of downloading IE8. It will not be a massive land rush, and as Hebenstreit repeated, the company's new Web browser will not automatically install itself.

"IE8 will not automatically install on machines," the program manager wrote, emphasizing what will be Microsoft's general policy in this new and more careful era of interoperability. "Users must opt-in to install IE8."

So although users with Automatic Updates turned on may receive something next week, that something will not be the Web browser itself. Instead, it will be a "High Priority" (for XP and Windows Server 2003) or "Important" (for Vista and Windows Server 2008) "Welcome to Internet Explorer 8" message, giving the user the option of bothering her about the matter later, installing IE8 now, or not installing IE8 at all. Automatic Update won't bother the user about it again, Hebenstreit wrote, though she'll still be able to install IE8 manually if she changes her mind later.

Last January, Microsoft began distributing for larger enterprises an IE8 Blocker Toolkit, a policy-based mechanism enabling admins to prevent their clients' automatic updates from receiving the Welcome Message package if they elect to remain with IE7 (or earlier). However, general users need not download this toolkit if they want to block the automatic update themselves. As the instructions reveal, the policy simply creates a new Registry key, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Setup\8.0\DoNotAllowIE80. If that key exists and its value is set to 1, then automatic distribution of the IE8 Welcome package will be blocked, according to the company.

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