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Microsoft: IE7 To Be High Priority Automatic Update

Microsoft quietly announced this week that it will distribute Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP as a high priority update via Automatic Updates when the new browser version is complete.

The disclosure came via a blog post online on Wednesday. “To help our customers become more secure and up-to-date, we will distribute IE7 as a high-priority update via Automatic Updates shortly after the final version is released for Windows XP, planned for the fourth quarter of this year,” said Tony Chor, group program manager for IE7 in the post.

For customers who want to delay updating to IE7, Microsoft has also released an administrator's toolkit that enables the updates to be blocked indefinitely.

IE7 will be the first update to Microsoft's aging browser in five years. IE6 was introduced in 2001 and updated with two service packs along the way -- Service Pack 2 came out two years ago. Most of SP2's code dealt with better securing IE against attack, and one noticeable addition was the Security Center.

The upcoming version also carries the security theme forward with what Microsoft calls “Protected Mode.” According to statements on Microsoft's site: “IE7's Protected Mode helps to eliminate the silent install of malicious code . . . by blocking writes outside of the Temporary Internet Files folder . . . and also helps [to] prevent Windows messages from being sent to higher privilege processes.”

As it stands, IE7 promises to be perhaps the best tested version of the browser ever. It began beta testing a year ago. There are twin releases of the browser – one each for Windows Vista and XP.

The company shipped a Beta 2 of IE7 for XP in late April, and officials insist the browser – at least the release for XP -- is on schedule despite the delays that have mangled Vista's schedule.

“To ensure users are prepared to upgrade, Automatic Updates will notify users when IE7 is ready to install and show a welcome screen that presents key features and choices to ‘Install,' ‘Don't Install,' or ‘Ask Me Later,'” Chor stated.

The IE7 Blocker Toolkit is available here. To download Beta 2 of IE7 for Windows XP, check here.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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