updated 11:00 am EST, Thu December 15, 2011
Internet Explorer to auto-upgrade soon
Microsoft GM Ryan Gavin told Windows users that the company would start auto-updating Internet Explorer. Beginning with Australia and Brazil in January, anyone using Windows XP or later with automatic updates turned on will go to the most recent version of the browser available for the OS without prompting. More countries would come in line over time.
Corporate users and those who had already turned down updates would be exempt from the automatic updates. Newer IE versions would always have an opt-out,
The company made clear that the goal was to improve security on Windows. Users on older versions weren't just open to direct attacks for exploits that had long since been patched, but were also susceptible to phishing attacks, fake ads, and other social attacks that either wouldn't get caught by the browser or would be more persuasive on older browsers.
Upgrading would similarly bring many more up to modern web standards like HTML5, Microsoft said. It also acknowledged that the company had hurt the web by relying on proprietary web rendering through much of the past decade and wanted to get more users on truly universal technology.
The switch in strategy is an acknowledgment for Microsoft that the emphasis on legacy support, meant to support companies that want older versions, has become a liability. Even now, the decade-old Internet Explorer 6 is still a significant part of Microsoft's browser share and has seen the company actively try to discourage users, even if it meant using a rival browser.