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Internet Explorer to join the automatic update crowd
Monday 19 December 2011 10:02:30 by Andrew Ferguson

The Google Chrome webbrowser has always had automatic updates, and Firefox is heading that way in 2012. Now Microsoft is to join the party and where users have Automatic Updates enabled on a Windows machine they can expect an update to the latest web browser available for their operating system.

The problem with Automatic Updates from any application is that they are invariably unaware of any billing implications. This means that many road warriors have Automatic Updates turned off, to avoid using up precious mobile broadband allowance when travelling. The biggest danger will occur when roaming outside the EU, where just 1 MB of data can end up costing several pounds.

Australia and Brazil are slated to be the first countries to receive these updates in 2012, so any adverse impact should be detected first in those countries. The most likely problems will be for people who have automatic updates enabled to ensure the Operating System is patched, and after upgrading their find some web pages don't work, or due to the large number of DLL's involved in an Internet Explorer update, they may find other applications crash more often (e.g. applications using MSHTML.DLL).

All those reading this who act as family IT support, with Christmas coming up, it may be worth checking what is running on various machines and pre-emptively updating them while visiting over the Christmas break, particularly as you can then explain the various changes to their web browser. Even if you have installed an alternative browser on their computer, it is worth checking what will happen when Internet Explorer is not the default browser and the update is pushed at them.


Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
Bad idea! It will be even more open to abuse and malware. Well known techniques are already used to falsely install malware and Trojans so why remove the human filtering? Glad I don't use IE9.
Posted by Apilar over 5 years ago
Background browser patching is a great addition. It works great for Chrome. You can't rely on users to keep their systems up-to-date. It would be nice if we saw MS patching Flash ActiveX automatically.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
More amusingly a lot of corporates could get caught out if they aren't in control of updates. A lot of corporate crapware lags behind in the browser stakes. That's a big driver in the IE6 usage figures - corporate sites that only support that browser.

Some of our sites only support up to IE8. Of more concern to me is that my eyes/brain can't handle pixel sub-addressing. If IE9 takes over and our sites continue not to support Chrome I'm going to have a problem.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago

As usual the response from MS is a deafening silence. The fact that some of us suffer genuine physical discomfort from these kinds of font shenanigans seems to mean nothing to them.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
The problem for some corporates (big and small) is that they will have custom intranet systems, where development to work well with the latest browsers is needed. This means money, and firms don't want to do that.

I still come across fairly large public sites, where the compatability button has to be used.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
Is personal opniion if it works great for chrome, I am strong believer that any update that changes how an app works gui etc. and can potentially break use of that app should require human intervention, suilent updating is treating your users as dummies. I certianly dont want my browser silently updated whilst I am using it. Chrome has many issues yet its beeen blindingly copied.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
The driver behind whats going on is ggogle is addicted to feature rollout, they have a very pro dev mindset, FF now seem to be on the same mindset but could simply be panicking and copying chrome, when I feel the average user just wants stability and something that works. Most people I know dont like gui changes.
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
Automatic updating is a classic vector for miscreants to place unwanted, even dangerous, malware on computers, not just Windows PCs but Macs and UNIX/Linux too. It also removes the control of the computer from the user, a bit like 'Big Brother' controlling what you use. Currently I use Firefox but when they go auto, I will be looking to turn off that feature or else will seek a different, non-automatic browser.
With the record of Microsoft and updating, I would not trust IE9 or beyond to remain 'safe'.
Posted by AspieMum over 5 years ago
My internet connection is slow and sometimes it is about 500KBs or less. When it goes down that low I need to be able to choose what is using the internet: one download at a time and you can't expect to do much else whilst a download is going on. Sometimes we are trying to have an XBox and computer connected at the same time on a connection that never gets above about 1.8MBs. However, companies these days assume you are getting a decent broadband connection because those in the middle of London are probably getting a brilliant speed. They seem to forget the rest of us exist.
Posted by AspieMum over 5 years ago
I use start up managers and the task manager to shut down or prevent programs loading at start up that may be searching for up dates because my internet connection cannot always cope.
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