Microsoft preps to push IE 8; makes blocking tool available

Friday, January 9, 2009

As it has done with previous Internet Explorer (IE) releases, Microsoft has made available an IE 8 blocking toolkit to allow users to keep Microsoft’s browser from being downloaded automatically on their Windows machines.

In a January 6 posting to the Microsoft IE blog, company officials noted that Microsoft is planning to push the final IE 8 release via its Automatic Update (AU), Windows Update (WU) and Microsoft Update (MU) update systems. To keep the release from being pushed, customers can download the blocker toolkit from the Microsoft Download Center.

Unlike some previous versions of the toolkit, there is no expiration date on the latest blocker. The toolkit can be configured by running the registry file on client machines or via Group Policy, according to the IE 8 blog posting.

Once the final IE 8 bits are ready, Microsoft is planning to mark them as a top priority for distribution, officials said via the blog entry:
“The IE8 update will be released as the highest priority update for each operating system. For Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, it will be listed as Important. For Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, the update will be listed as High Priority. Delivery of IE8 via AU will begin after we make IE8 available from the Microsoft Download Center. Of course, users can always decline to install IE8 through AU when it is offered.”

Microsoft hasn’t provided a final release target date for IE 8, other than to say some time in 2009. Late last year, company officials acknowledged Microsoft would not be releasing the final version of IE 8 before the end of calendar 2008, as some company officials had claimed previously. Instead, Microsoft is planning to distribute in the first quarter of 2009 one more public test release, Release Candidate 1, before it rolls out the final IE 8.

I’m not sure if we’ll see RC 1 of IE 8 this week. While Microsoft is expected to release the official version of Windows 7 Beta 1 to private and public testers over course of the next three days, the build of IE8 that is part of Windows 7 Beta 1 is still Beta 2, company officials said on January 7. (The refreshed partner test build of IE 8 that Microsoft released privately in December was designated as “RC1″ but isn’t the official RC1 release, the Softies have said.)
When I asked earlier this week, Microsoft officials wouldn’t comment on when IE 8 RC1 would go live.
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