UPDATE: Microsoft: IE 9 Will Not Require Windows 7 SP1, but Don't Wait

Despite the excitement of last week's beta debut of Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft wants organizations moving to Windows 7 to use its Internet Explorer 8 browser.

(Editor's note: Microsoft changed its IE 9 FAQ on Thursday. The FAQ now states that "Internet Explorer 9 will install on systems that have either Windows 7 RTM or Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) installed." Earlier the FAQ had said that Windows 7 SP1 would be required. - KM)

This Windows 7 plus IE 8 combination will enable an upgrade path to Internet Explorer 9 when it is released to the Web in a final form, according to a Microsoft blog post. The blog claims that application compatibility between the two IE browser versions will be high.

"Until the final code of Internet Explorer 9 is released to the web (RTW), we recommend businesses first move to Windows 7 Enterprise with Internet Explorer 8 so they can immediately benefit from the enhanced security, manageability, web standardization, and lifecycle support that Internet Explorer 8 brings to enterprise browsing, today," the blog states.

In another blog post, Microsoft claimed that organizations should not delay their Windows 7 rollouts in order to wait for the IE 9 RTW version. If Microsoft follows a typical rollout scenario, that IE 9 RTM release might happen early next year, but Microsoft has not yet announced the actual release date.

In the past, Microsoft has insisted that Internet Explorer is a feature of Windows. However the OS and the browser have been released as separate solutions at various noncoinciding points in time throughout Microsoft's release history. According to a Microsoft spokesperson via e-mail, "the release of Internet Explorer 9 is not dependent on any future release of Windows."

Organizations shouldn't wait for the first service pack of Windows 7 to arrive before deploying the new operating system, according to the Microsoft spokesperson.

"Service Pack 1 will be released within the first half of calendar year 2011, however, customers should not feel like they need to wait for SP1," the spokesperson stated via e-mail. "Windows 7 is a high quality release and provides many benefits to consumers and businesses alike. SP1 will include all updates previously available to Windows 7 users through Windows Update, so there is no reason to wait or delay their use of Windows 7."

The first service pack for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is currently available as a beta release. It contains just two new virtualization features, "dynamic memory" and "RemoteFX," plus cumulative updates. It has no new Windows 7-specific features and none are planned by Microsoft.

Microsoft released IE 9 as a beta this month. The company claims that more than two million copies of the IE 9 beta were downloaded in two days' time. Like all betas, it's for testing purposes only. Installing the beta will replace IE 8 without warning the user, which represents another reason to isolate IE 9 from the production environment. The only way for the two browsers to run side by side on a single desktop is through virtualization, the IE 9 FAQ explains.

On the plus side, though, the IE 9 beta installation will inherit the user's settings and bookmarks (or "favorites") automatically from IE 8.

A common factor shared by IE 9 and IE 8 that can aid intranet Web site compatibility for organizations is that both browsers have "compatibility view" buttons that revert to Internet Explorer 7 rendering. Organizations thus won't have to retest their browser-based intranet applications (if they work on IE 7) when migrating to IE 9, the IE 9 FAQ claims.

IT pros can expect to see some new administrative tools appearing closer to the IE 9 RTW date. Those tools, which aren't available now, will include "the Blocker Toolkit, Internet Explorer Administration Kit, Unattend.xml settings, support for more languages, and the Internet Explorer Compatibility Test Tool in the Application Compatibility Toolkit," according to the IE 9 FAQ.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments:

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 kalim


Sat, Jan 22, 2011 magic doglass egypt

Bravo Microsoft! We have needed a clear line in the sand to move forward with W7. It also puts a finite life on previous browsers. I know there will be those who "hate" this decision, but the new features and support are the future. Sure beats eliminating flash like the Ipad. NOW WE CAN PLAN

Sat, Nov 27, 2010 shani pakistan chiniot

i see the internet explorer 9, i m very happy to see this and i m exited to install it.

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 Kurt Mackie Irvine, Calif.

@All: Microsoft revised its IE 9 FAQ on Thursday. It now states that you don't need Windows 7 Service Pack 1 with IE 9. Sorry for the confusion, but I've now reported this correction from Microsoft on Friday.

Fri, Sep 24, 2010

Actually, this does the opposite of what you suggest. By limiting IE9 to users of the latest OS (with a future service pack, no less), Microsoft is ensuring that IE8 (if not also IE7) will be around for a long time to come -- that is, many users won't upgrade their systems to the latest OS just to get a new browser. On the other hand, I can understand why Microsoft would do it -- anything they can do to encourage people to upgrade their operating system, and pay Microsoft more money. It makes perfect business sense. It just hurts web developers (especially those still supporting IE6 because they have some users who haven't left windows 2000 yet). Sure, as a programmer and geek, I love having the latest gadgets and tools, but these lines in the sand just mean more code to maintain.

Thu, Sep 23, 2010 James S. Fogarty, Ph.D. Consulting LLC Schuylikill Haven, Pennsylvania

Bravo Microsoft! We have needed a clear line in the sand to move forward with W7. It also puts a finite life on previous browsers. I know there will be those who "hate" this decision, but the new features and support are the future. Sure beats eliminating flash like the Ipad. NOW WE CAN PLAN!

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