So Microsoft has announced that it’s going to start auto-updating Internet Explorer on PCs to the latest version supported by the Operating System. On the face of it this seems like great news, and it would be, if they had the balls to do it right.
The problem is that all Windows updates, automatic or otherwise, arrive through Windows Update (the tool built into Windows to manage system updates). When a new install of Windows is performed one of the options at the end of the installation is how to handle updates available though Windows Update. One of the options is to download and install automatically, another downloads automatically and installs when prompted to by the user and a final option is to do nothing at all.
I’ve done a lot of IT support over the years, almost exclusively Windows based, and my experience over that time is that by far and wide the most common option to have selected is the second one; download automatically and install when prompted. This is where the problem lies, most end users don’t install anything when prompted, because us technical folk have spent years telling them not to say yes to things that pop up on the screen.
Microsoft should have taken the opportunity with IE9 to roll out a Chrome style background update system that’s not dependant on Windows Update. As it is, and as hopeful as I am, I don’t think we’ll see the overnight disappearance of IE6 and 7 like the vast majority of web developers are suddenly all hoping for.