Enterprises must take action to block IE8 from auto installing

Microsoft won't tell the world exactly when to expect IE8, but it is warning enterprises that they should implement the company's new IE8 Blocker Toolkit before that mysterious date arrives. If they don't, IE8 will auto-install as a high-priority update on Windows desktops via Automatic Update, Windows Update or Microsoft Update.

So Microsoft created a tool to stop it from updating your desktops without your permission. Blocker must be run on the registry file of client machines although, thankfully, it can also be pushed out via Group Policy, says the Microsoft IE blog:

"To help prevent users from installing IE8 through Automatic Update before compatibility testing has been completed, we are providing the IE8 Blocker Toolkit. This toolkit has no expiration date and can be configured either by running the registry file on the client machines or via Group Policy in domain joined environments. The Blocker Toolkit is available today from the Microsoft Download Center."

Note that if you previously used the IE7 Blocker toolkit to block IE7 from installing itself, you will still need to run the IE8 version. If you are running Internet Explorer 6, questions remain if IE will or will/not automatically update to IE8. In the latest beta, a jump from version 6 to 8 causes some javascript errors on Windows XP machines (and we can safely assume that XP users comprise just about all the IE6 holdouts).

As for ship time, most Microsoft watchers have put the probable IE8 ship date in the first half of 2009, though it is possible it may ship in the first quarter. A pre-release candidate version of IE8 shipped with the latest Windows 7 beta. PRC is typically the final test version before Microsoft ships a final product.

It certainly would be a kindness if Microsoft didn't instantly push the browser out automatically, allowing those eager for the new browser to download it and giving enterprises breathing room to test. But we can see the logic. Enterprises will need the IE8 Blocker Toolkit anyway, because all corporations have their eager users who wouldn't wait for a formal OK from IT. So, Microsoft might as well stem that tide of bleeding market share that caused Firefox to garner 20% of the browser market in 2008 and push its latest and greatest out to everyone the second it is ready. This, of course, isn't going to score it any points with the European Union's European Commission -- which has just warned Microsoft that bundling its browser with Windows appears to be an antitrust violation.

While we're on the subject of IE8, the IE8 team wants to invite you to a live chat where the team will answer the public's questions. This will be held on Thursday, January 22 at 10 a.m. PST/18.00 UTC. To join the chat, visit the Microsoft chat page.

Visit the Microsoft Subnet web site for more news, blogs, podcasts. Also see:

EU slaps Microsoft (again) for antitrust over IE bundled with WindowsWindows 7 beta wrecks your MP3 files (already has a patch)Ron Barrett: Why Windows 7 will crush Linux Mitchell Ashley:Why Windows 7 will never kill off LinuxWindows Server 2008 R2 beta ready for downloading17 job-hunting resources for Windows prosSubscribe to all Microsoft Subnet bloggers.bi-weekly Microsoft newsletter. (Click on News/Microsoft News Alert.)

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