IE7 + Automatic Update = support nightmare!

The Internet Explorer development team blog is reporting that they are going to distribute Internet Explorer 7 as a high priority update via Automatic Updates. The release date has been set as “the fourth quarter of this year”!

While this might, at first glance, seem a little heavy handed Microsoft have some safeguards built into the system.

  • Automatic Update (AU) will notify users when IE7 is ready to install and show a welcome screen that presents choices to “Installâ€?, “Don’t Installâ€?, or “Ask Me Laterâ€?. Choosing the Ask Me Later option means you won’t be prompted to install it by AU subsequently
  • Also, if you do install it, you can uninstall it by using Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel. This will roll you back to IE6
  • Users who have AU turned off will not be notified and
  • it will also be available for download via the Windows Update or Microsoft Update sites
  • installing will not change your choice of default browser – this is important because for people who don’t want to use Internet Explorer, but who run Windows based machines, IE6 still has many security issues which are addressed by IE7. Installing IE7 should address these issues but not force the user to use IE7.

For IE7 to work on your PC you will need to be authenticated using the controversial Windows Genuine Advantage tool.

This all seems straightforward enough until you consider someone like my father. My father is in his 70s. He browses the ‘Net daily. If presented with the option to install a security update, he has been trained to click accept (without trying to comprehend what specifically it is patching). If he accepts this and suddenly his browser experience changes (sites that used to render properly no longer work) he’ll be completely confused. He wouldn’t know how to uninstall.

I can see lots of support lines lighting up in “the fourth quarter of this year”!

17 thoughts on “IE7 + Automatic Update = support nightmare!”

  1. I have the IE7 beta installed and it actually overwrites IE6 or whatever other version of IE you had so even if you wanted to revert back it would be somewhat complicated.

    I must say though that I like IE7 so far, the multiple tabs etc.

  2. Sean – the final release of IE 7 can be uninstalled from Add/Remove programs and this will revert IE back to IE 6.

    Richard – I’m guessing then that you would prefer if they didn’t supply security updates? I personally was a hardened FF fan and user until I installed IE 7 beta 2 to check out what the IE team had been doing. I have yet found a reason to open up FF again and the beta crashes less than FF did. FF fan or not, IE 7 is a major improvement and more secure than IE 6 so irregardless of whether or not you use IE as your browser you should be installing all IE security patches (IE 7 being considered one) as plenty of apps use IE components internally.

    Tom – I’m probably going to be providing that support to family and friends too!!! arrragghhhh!

  3. @Brian

    I was just pointing out that people have the choice to disable *this particular* download by downloading that particular MS patch. Some people might prefer to wait a little while before committing to the upgrade.

    TBH I would prefer if MS would release good code that wasn’t so susceptible to security issues in the first place.

    I use FF because I do a lot of development and SEO and cant live without the many extensions that I use literally 100’s of times daily. If I *really* need to I just open up IE in a FF tab.

    Firebug is the finest extension I’ve seen thus far. It helps me debug just about everything web related. If IE offered me this functionality I would certainly consider moving over. I try to avoid apps that make use of IE’s engine.

    I’m quite sure I will install IE7 for cross-browser testing but I doubt whether I will use it that often. Time will tell.

    🙂

  4. I’m running IE7 Beta 3 and really like it but (and it is a big but), it does not work with the utterly rubbish Ulster Bank Online Business banking (IE6 MS VM only) and yesterday I discovered that it doesn’t work with EsatBT’s sign-up screens for their broadband packages.

    In both cases the fault lies with the web-site owners for designing such rubbish sites but that is no help if you need to access them and IE7 does not work when IE6 did. The interesting thing for me is that IE7 is more like FF than IE6 in terms of which sites work and which do not.

    There are going to be huge support issues if this is auto-pushed but I still hope they do as it will force all those sites to redesign using standards and therefore implicitly support FF where they didn’t previously. Either that or those sites go out of business.

  5. If the UI was more flexible (address bar movable from top etc.) so that it could be more IE6-ish it would be tempting but for corporate any change to UI is a big support issue.

    Anyone in a corp setting should be using WSUS or Patchlink (we use the latter) or some other means for deploying patches to ensure that full control is exercised over patches (so that patches can be deployed to a test group to ensure against breakage).

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