Apparently sick of badgering users to upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer, Microsoft has decided to take the decision out of their hands.
The software giant announced on Thursday that it is following in the footsteps of Google and Mozilla (News - Alert) by automatically updating Windows customers to the most recent version of its famed Web browser.
The move is more than just a good excuse for Microsoft (News - Alert) to pump up its IE9 download numbers, although that aspect probably didn't hurt. Outdated Web browsers aren't equipped with many of today's most critical online security tools, leaving them as an easy target for malware and spyware purveyors. Updates also tend to contain patches and bug fixes that make Web surfing safer.
In addition, the latest Web browsers – IE9 included – enable the delivery of richer Web experiences through platforms like HTML5, which is being rapidly adopted by many big Internet companies.
"The Web overall is better – and safer – when more people run the most up-to-date browser," Ryan Gavin, general manager of IE, noted in a blog post announcing the change. "Our goal is to make sure that Windows customers have the most up-to-date and safest browsing experience possible, with the best protections against malicious software such as malware."
Those who aren't interested in getting automatically upgraded to the new version of IE can opt out, but it will take a bit more work than the previous method: doing nothing. Users who are happy with their current browser can download an Internet Explorer Automatic Update Blocker toolkit and can even uninstall updates if they forget to do so before Microsoft begins the initiative.
Users who have previously declined IE8 or IE9 installations won't receive the automatic update, so they will have to go through the steps on their own if they eventually want the latest version of the browser.
With Microsoft's announcement, the days of the opt-in browser update are basically over. Google (News - Alert) Chrome began issuing automatic updates in 2008 and Mozilla followed suit earlier this year.
Microsoft said that it will start the process in January in Brazil and Australia, and will then target other parts of the globe soon thereafter.
Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves