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Microsoft to eradicate IE6 with automatic updates

Microsoft posted to its Windows Team blog yesterday that it plans to start automatically updating users of old versions of Internet Explorer across Windows XP, Vista, and 7. Before anybody gets too excited or angered about this, it sounds like it will be a slow roll-out.

Today we are sharing our plan to automatically upgrade Windows customers to the latest version of Internet Explorer available for their PC. This is an important step in helping to move the Web forward. We will start in January for customers in Australia and Brazil who have turned on automatic updating via Windows Update. Similar to our release of IE9 earlier this year, we will take a measured approach, scaling up over time.

The IE automatic update process is for individual consumers and enterprises. Microsoft pokes fun at Mozilla in the blog post for its mishandling of Firefox in the enterprise and says they will allow people to opt out of the automatic update if they need to.

While the benefits of upgrading are numerous, we recognize that some organizations and individuals may want to opt-out and set their own upgrade pace. One of the things we’re committed to as we move to auto updates is striking the right balance for consumers and enterprises – getting consumers the most up-to-date version of their browser while allowing enterprises to update their browsers on their schedule. The Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 Automatic Update Blocker toolkits prevent automatic upgrades of IE for Windows customers who do not want them. Of course, we firmly believe that IE9 is the most compelling browser for business customers, and we want them to make the decision to upgrade at their convenience.

Similarly, customers who have declined previous installations of IE8 or IE9 through Windows Update will not be automatically updated. Customers have the ability to uninstall updates and continue to receive support for the version of IE that came with their copy of Windows. And similar to organizations, consumers can blockthe update all together and upgrade on their own. Finally, future versions of IE will provide an option in the product for consumers to opt out of automatic upgrading.

You can watch the eventual demise of Internet Explorer 6 at Microsoft’s IE6 Countdown.