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Microsoft will force upgrades to IE 7 through buggy Windows Update system, whether users want it or not

July 28, 2006

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2006, Al Fasoldt

   Microsoft is going to force Windows users to upgrade Internet Explorer to IE 7. The upgrade will be automatically downloaded and installed through the incredibly buggy Windows Update system that comes standard with XP.
   There's a way around this amazing display of Big Brother Knows Best, which I'll tell you about in a minute. But most Windows users, especially ones behind corporate firewalls, won't know about turning this function off, and most corporate network managers probably won't know about it, either.
   Internet Explorer 7 has a lot of new features that make it safer than IE 5 or 6, the two versions of Internet Explorer most used today. But millions of Windows users have chosen to stop using IE entirely in favor of Firefox, the free and Open Source Web browser from the Mozilla Foundation. (Firefox is inherently safer than any version of Internet Explorer.)
   Microsoft may be attempting to lure back many of these Firefox users by forcing a new browser on them. While all is indeed fair in love and war, this is definitely not love and it is not war; Microsoft cannot legally shut out, disable or replace its competitors' software with programs of its own. But that does seem to be what will happen if IE 7 replaces Firefox as the default browser. (And if its intent is NOT to replace Firefox as the default, why would Microsoft force the update?)
   The basic problem, aside from Microsoft's own attitude and actions, is that many Windows users are largely clueless about the choices they have in Web browsers. I've repeatedly found, in my talks to civic and community groups, that typical Windows users know nothing about alternative ways of surfing the Web; to them, Internet Explorer is the Internet.
   (Yes, I agree; that's hard to believe. It's just as difficult to believe that clueless Windows users consider Outlook Express the only way to do e-mail, and it's almost impossible to believe they have no idea they can choose a non-Windows operating system. We are dealing with a technologically illiterate generation.)
   If you would like to block this automatic upgrade, download and install the Blocker Toolkit here: www.neowin.net/index.php?act=view&id=34296. Tell your corporate system managers about this, too.
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