IE8 Automatic Update Starting Soon

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IE8 Automatic UpdateMicrosoft have announced that Internet Explorer 8.0 will be released via the Windows Automatic Update starting on the third week of April 2009 (view the IEBlog announcement). The final version of the browser has been available for download since 20 March, but its uptake has been fairly sedate and is probably limited to web developers and early adopters.

The Automatic Update is likely to change the situation significantly. All IE6 and IE7 users on Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003 and Server 2008 will receive an IE8 update notification. It will be marked as “High-priority” in XP and 2003, and “Important” in Vista and 2008. The roll out will initially target a small audience but expand to cover the entire user base over the coming weeks.

However, IE8 will not install automatically and a welcome screen will give users the option to install, ask later, or abandon the upgrade. The company have also released a blocker toolkit so IT administrators can disable the update.

Despite the massive roll-out, what most web developers need to know is:
will this finally eradicate IE6?

Existing IE7 users are likely to switch promptly and, by the end of the year, the browser will be languishing toward the bottom of the statistics chart. Unfortunately, IE6 users have already blocked previous IE7 updates – there is no reason why they should suddenly feel any urgency to install IE8. Many IE6 users may be unable to switch because they are:

  • on a restricted corporate network or depend on IE6-only web applications
  • using an older version of Windows, such as 98, ME, 2000, or XP SP1
  • using an illegal copy of Windows with disabled updates, or
  • ignorant or nervous about using the Windows Automatic Update system.

Or perhaps they prefer the simpler browsing experience that IE6 offers?

Whatever the reason, Microsoft’s Automatic Update may not have a significant impact on existing IE6 users. I suspect we will have a bizarre situation where the IE6 and IE8 market shares both overtake IE7. Celebrations of IE6’s demise are probably premature.

Will the IE8 Automatic Update be a success or is it increasingly irrelevant?

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  • Greg

    Hey, at least it’s a start.

  • Susan

    It should be a success. There shouldn’t be the issues that IE7 produced in part because of the compatibility mode, and in part because people who have IE7 already, should be successful in updating and using and will spread the word.

    IE8’s success doesn’t depend on current IE6 users, and new users with new systems should be very happy.

  • http://www.billbolte.com bbolte

    No, it won’t solve the IE6 problem. If IE6 users didn’t upgrade to 7 (for whatever reason), they won’t update to 8.

  • Anonymous

    Does IE8 have a compatibility mode for IE6, not that would aloow lots of users “stuck” with IE6 to upgrade !

    Just a little thought !

    D

  • http://www.vastneonwolf.net neonwolf

    I must agree with @bbolte, we are going to have to deal with “the IE6 problem” for a while longer. The users that haven’t updated yet will need a more brute force approach to upgrading. In the case of our department’s SOE it will mean quite a while. We are just about to upgrade to Vista. (Don’t ask) We finally get IE7 as the standard browser. I estimate it will be another 18-24 months before we see talk of upgrading to IE8.

  • http://blog.afterlight.net.au AussieJohn

    A big part of the problem is that IT departments for corporations will use the blocker kit and not allow IE8 to be installed.
    They have had more than 2 years to update their intranet applications, Microsoft have even released compatibility tools to help developers/IT depts. to update their intranet to work with IE7. After all this time, we are still seeing a *very* slow move from IE6 to newer browsers.

    At least by adding IE8 to automatic updates early on the uptake will be a bit faster and more widespread.

  • mh0825

    What about users in the stone age with IE 5.5? Those visitors with this on my sites drive me nuts!

  • http://blog.afterlight.net.au AussieJohn

    @mh0825:
    I haven’t bothered supporting IE 5.5 for a few years now, you can’t even get the browser anywhere apart from standalone versions (like MultipleIE). Windows 2000 came with it by default, but the entire OS isn’t even supported by Microsoft any more.

  • http://www.flashminddesign.com flashmind

    One can only hope.

  • http://www.sinthuxdesigns.com sinthux

    IE just needs to die. It’s nice that they’re putting more emphasis on upgrading, but even that is a fail.

  • http://www.clearwind.nl peach

    “What about users in the stone age with IE 5.5? Those visitors with this on my sites drive me nuts!”
    Well if you’re still feeling the need to support ie 5.5, don’t even think about dropping ie6 in the coming 10 years or so ;)

    I’ve dropped ie5.5 years ago.

  • Amtiskaw

    According to some sources, IE6 usage has been been dropping at about 1% per month for the past year at least, and currently stands at 18%. If we project forward, we can foresee that in 12 months time, it’s market share could be as low as 6%. I’d say about 5% is the threshold at which it no longer makes sense to pay the cost of supporting it vs the benefit of the extra users.

    Of course, depending on your site’s user base and the statistics you gather from them, you may make the shift sooner or later. Hopefully, as different sites start to de-support IE6, it will cause more people to upgrade and thus accelerate its decline.

  • Paul McKeown

    What’s the problem? IE5, IE5.5, IE6 and IE7 just give you work to do – you should be glad they are around! And, fellows, let’s face it, it ain’t rocket science, it’s more like sledding downhill on a snowy day. Conditional comments to some IE correcting css files. And some object detection and branched ECMAScript to provide code for the non-standard DOM whenever necessary. Hey and that should mostly be linrary code anyway. What’s all the wailing, rent garments, sackcloth and ashes about? It’s actually much harder to cope with real bugs in browsers rather than MS’s admittedly ofttime annoying design choices. Remember the preventDefault in Safari until 2.0.4? Strewth! Numerous real bugs abound in all browsers – and as there is no standard, universal and reliable way to “sniff” platform, browser and version, it is very difficult to cope with them. As an industry, we seem to just shrug our shoulders and say, “Sure it will be corrected in the next version” and pretend that people don’t have genuine reasons for staying with old platforms and running old versions of browsers which we love to feel snobbish about.

    Sure I’m glad IE 8 is about, many people will benefit from a better browsing experience. I just don’t think that web developers should take that as an excuse to short circuit the process of creating robust sites.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    Does IE8 have a compatibility mode for IE6, not that would aloow lots of users “stuck” with IE6 to upgrade!

    It’s a shame that it doesn’t. The rendering differences between IE8 and IE7 are minor compared to IE6.

    But would it persuade corporations to upgrade? Rolling out IE8 and configuring every desktop to switch to IE6 compatibility mode in certain situations would still require significant effort. Ultimately, it’s easier just to keep the users on IE6 until the next OS upgrade.

  • http://blog.afterlight.net.au AussieJohn

    Sure I’m glad IE 8 is about, many people will benefit from a better browsing experience. I just don’t think that web developers should take that as an excuse to short circuit the process of creating robust sites.

    I’m not going to pretend to know how many hours you spend on front end web development, but I do believe I speak for a large proportion of front-end web developers when I say that the amount of time taken to cater for IE6 is a very large number compared to just building a site for modern browsers.

    I spend my time building interfaces with XHTML, JavaScript and CSS, I build things that work fantastic for Firefox/Safari/IE7/IE8 (in other words 99% of users on modern browsers) and then I spend hours upon hours hacking and tweaking so that things will work in IE6.

    It’s not about “taking shortcuts in the process of creating robust websites”, it’s about improving the standards and quality of the web, and we can not continue to provide these superb interfaces in IE6 because it isn’t a very cost effective way of building websites. I suspect sites with “dumbed down” interfaces for IE6 will start to appear soon.

  • http://blog.afterlight.net.au AussieJohn

    I also suspect Craig writes a lot of articles involving IE6 because he likes getting lots of comments :-P

  • Anonymous

    This will not make a huge difference, I suspect. Many of the corporate environments that stuck with IE6 when IE7 came out will do the same now. I’m stuck with supporting IE6 for the foreseeable future.

  • webdever

    Most end-users will most likely upgrade to IE8, because there is no reason not to. They want the best browsing experience and you can be sure that the websites they visit will work with IE8.

    It’s the corporate networks that have consistently failed to update their web applications that are keeping IE6 alive. Since there are lots of employees on these networks, locked in to IE6, accessing the Internet at work, the market share remains something that continues to be supported.

    Unfortunately, upgrading web application can be very expensive and it simply doesn’t make sense to “fix” an application if it’s not broken. Given the current financial climate, I doubt many companies will spring to upgrade in the near future.

    IE6 will ultimately die when corporations upgrade their networks with Vista or Windows 7.

  • http://www.jasonbatten.com NetNerd85

    It seems a lot of clients using IE6 don’t have automatic updates on and don’t know how to update their PC.

    One of my favourite lines from the IT Crowd comes to mind “…the button turns it on…”

  • Anonymous

    I think the trick is to “TELL EVERYONE” to upgrade their browsers and also tell them to spread the word. We also must get them excited about the benefits of upgrading to IE7 or IE8. I think that if people get excited about upgrading and they understand the benefits, they will definitely upgrade.

    The only people that will probably hang on to IE6 a little more are people that are on an Intranet that only works well with IE6 and people with OLD computers. But no big deal. We should be able to see IE6 drop to less than 10% in usage soon.

    We just need to do our part to promote the update and to educate people so that they get excited about the move.

  • cgntoonartist

    I think the trick is to “TELL EVERYONE” ( clients, friends, and family ) to upgrade their browsers and also tell them to “spread the word”. We also must get them excited about the benefits of upgrading to IE7 or IE8. If people get excited about upgrading, and they understand the benefits, they will definitely upgrade.

    The only people that will probably hang on to IE6 for a little longer are people that are on an Intranet that only works well with IE6 and people with OLD computers. But no big deal, we should be able to see IE6 drop to less than 10% in usage very soon.

    We just need to do our part to promote the update and to educate people so that they get excited about the move.

    As developers we also have to take a stand and say “I will no longer support IE6 – period!” I understand that there are some special circumstances that some of us will still need to take IE6 into consideration, but most of the time, we can decide that IE6 is no more.

    Cheers!

  • http://www.mikehealy.com.au cranial-bore

    Once IE8 has broader adoption it will be more reasonable for designers and sites to have a word in the ear of IE6 users, as they will be using a browser TWO major versions out of date (with many years between versions).
    The “Please Update” notices on websites should have a bit more authority then.

  • Banhawi

    The start of IE6 end

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @AussieJohn

    I also suspect Craig writes a lot of articles involving IE6 because he likes getting lots of comments :-P

    The article’s about IE8!
    But yes, discussion comments are healthy!

  • http://EasyNetSuccess.com ziplok

    Good thing almost all my sites are WordPress 2.7.1!

  • Jacobus Lutegela

    It doesn’t work at all though it is in my pc.