Newsflash: Microsoft as pushy as ever

You'd think that coughing up $1.1 billion in small bills to Californians upset about its anticompetitive behavior would make Microsoft more cautious about its business tactics-- not to mention the recent pledge it made to play nice. But no.

Microsoft is pushing a new version of its Internet Explorer Web browser -- the very piece of software that got it into hot water with antitrust cops -- as a Windows "Automatic Update." That means Windows users will get Internet Explorer 7 whether they want it or not. (A post-publication update for the nitpickers: For whatever it's worth, Microsoft notes that it's adding an extra step to ask whether users want to install the automatically downloaded update, but the Browser maintains that it's highly unlikely the average user -- who just wants to click as fast he can to get rid of all the alerts his PC throws at him -- will pause to read the installation alert, let alone meaningfully consent to it.)

"This method of distribution is considered aggressive and is likely to result in the majority of users proceeding to install the application," writes VNUNet. Controlling the operating system on most of the world's personal computers sure is helpful when it comes to software distribution, isn't it? Rival Firefox browser has to take out ads in the New York Times to garner downloads.

The news came, very 2006-style, on Microsoft's IEBlog, where corporate IT types are now huddling with their questions. Even though Microsoft claims IE7 is more secure, for systems administrators, installing any new piece of software comes with headaches as they have to test how it works with all the other software their employers run.

Microsoft is providing corporate accounts with a blocker that prevents the automatic download, but installing that, too, is another headache for IT staff. So far, the Web reaction has been less focused on Microsoft's abuse of power and more on how to cope with the impending deluge of new, untested software. At least one commenter on Microsoft's blog, however, expressed his dismay at the move: "Very nice IBM, erm... Microsoft."

That comment, of course, picked up on yesterday's raging "Is Microsoft becoming the old IBM?" debate. Microsoft, apparently, is still capable of being a little pushy.
Posted by Oliver Ryan 10:11 AM 12 Comments comment | Add a Comment

As a IT engineer I have been testing IE7 beta 2 and beta 3 on select boxes in our organization. Both versions have locked up with errors multiple times working with our internal and external web servers. In all instances I have had to rollback to IE 6. If Microsoft forces IE 7 down our throats I forsee major issues and upset users.
Posted By Tim Nichols, Ripley TN : 11:34 AM  

Look at the dialog box that you show in the article, the user has a choice to install it, ignore it, or check again later. It's hard to reconcile that with your "that means Windows users will get Internet Explorer 7 whether they want it or not."

I know sensational articles about Microsoft help create page views, but you really should try to stick with something that has some bearing on reality instead of foaming at the mouth about the evils of Microsoft!!!!
Posted By Nik Simpson, Atlanta, Ga : 11:39 AM  

I am sorry but Windows Automatic Update is not forced on users. Any user can turn it off and only pick what they want to update.

People love to use computers but do not want to learn how to use it well.....

Tough luck!!
Posted By Sohail Sikora, Woodbridge NJ : 11:51 AM  

Posted By Joe Gakenheimer; Columbus, Ohio : 12:57 PM  

With loss of sales of software and the rise of the Google titan, Microsoft is probably panicking as to how they can maintain their prominence and market share. This development doesn't surprise me; they're bringing out any potential upper-hands to set up ramparts against their enemies. All I can say is that it lowers the public opinion on Microsoft's business practices, probably resulting in a temporary victory but a looming loss.
Posted By Korie, Signal Mountain, TN : 1:42 PM  

Stop bashing Microsoft and start asking the lay person on the street instead of these tech geeks what they think of Microsoft.

I am a lay person that appreciate and enjoy the convenience of making every things works on ONE system.
Posted By Firefox is also NOT secure, DC : 1:46 PM  

IE7 has been out for a couple weeks now. It is currently in its third beta trial. I have been using firefox for years, but thought it might be nice to see what improvements were made to IE. IE7 was, at this point, in its first beta life. I downloaded and installed the program and after the ceremonial restart of the system, my computer kept bringing up an error that it could not connect to my wireless network (something my computer usually does automatically). I decided to try and see it IE would work anyway and opened the program. My system subsequently freezed (the ONLY time my computer has frozen since upgrading to XP - four years)! So, I restarted again and the same problem appeared. Quite frustrated, I unistalled IE and thankfully went back to firefox. As soon as IE was of ofmy computer, everything was fine, wireless network and all. A couple days ago I saw that IE7 was in its third beta stage, so I decided to give the program a second chance. Big mistake as it still made my system freeze and my computer unable to connect to my wireless connection. I again rid my system of IE7 and was glad my firefox was standing by. Obviously, I am very chagrined to find out that Microsoft will be including IE7 as part of a Windows Update in the near future and I would not recommend the new software to anyone. Firefox is ahead of the curve and very user friendly; a grat alternative to IE.
Posted By Rey, Pittsburgh PA : 4:09 PM  

Personally, I don't mind MS pushing out IE7 in this way. IE is tied into Windows anyway and IE6 is a security nightmare; the faster it dies out, the better.

Additionally, with this sort of disruptive change going on, more people will hear about (and hopefully switch to) alternative browsers like Firefox and Opera.
Posted By Conrad Knauer, Saskatoon, Canada : 8:54 PM  

Why don't you test drive 2.0 instead of IE7-Beta. is "Free" and Open Source. It is a good alternative to the expensive MS Office. It can avoid the Microsoft Office VBA Macro Virus problem. It can even save many virus inflected MS Word and Excel documents and make them readable again in MS Office.
Posted By Kung Ck, HongKong : 10:45 PM  

The sky is falling. The sky is falling. People can opt in for Microsoft's updates. They can decide whether they wish to install or not (as your own graphic shows). I have installed the IE7 beta on two different machines and IT WORKS LIKE A CHARM.
Posted By Brad, Pittsburgh PA : 3:25 AM  

Automatic update is a User choice, not a forced function. Why doesnt everyone just switch it off, get a life and leave Microsoft alone. My life would be a lot more complex if MS wasn't around.
Posted By Colin. London, Engalnd : 1:39 PM  

I have used IE7 several times, its the main source, yet now several times the Computer is frozen when used. IE7 will not work with Java installed that will not work without it, to run a service I try to use.
Many times I'm force to use Firefox version 2.0 and I'm very pleased with how it looks and how well it works, it solves the problem.
Posted By SLM,Henderson,Nevada : 3:41 PM  

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