Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) is a notable exception. The newest version of Microsoft's Web browser comes standard with Windows 8 licenses but has not yet been made available for Windows 7, the oldest version of Microsoft's OS on which IE10 will run and the company's most popular platform overall.
Luckily, those who've been waiting won't have to be patient much longer. Based on a recently released IE toolkit, Windows 7 users should expect IE10 to become available by early spring.
The IE 10 Automatic Update Blocker Toolkit allows IT administrators to block corporate PCs running Windows 7 from automatically installing IE 10. Microsoft has been deploying silent updates since late 2011, upgrading browser versions in the background without user intervention. Prior to that, Windows requested a user's permission before installing a new edition.
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Businesses that want to continue running older versions of IE can use the toolkit to disallow automatic IE10 upgrades on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Companies that rely on Windows Server Update Services or System Management Server do not need the toolkit, as both are already equipped to manage browser installations. The toolkit does not stop a user from manually installing the browser.
Microsoft has released similar toolkits prior to launching each of the last three IE versions. To give IT staffers time to prepare for new releases, the toolkits have generally appeared one or two months ahead of each browser's public availability. If Redmond maintains its historical pace, Windows 7 users should be able to download IE10 in March or April.
Microsoft caused minor controversy with IE 10 when it announced the browser would install with its "Do Not Track" feature enabled by default. Advertisers decried the move, claiming it would threaten free online services. The ire provoked skepticism in some quarters, as IE10 users can always opt to reengage tracking. Microsoft has no plans to change its policy.
Through January, IE10 hadn't exerted much presence in cyberspace. Even though consumers and businesses have purchased more than 60 million Windows 8 licenses , the browser hasn't registered in terms of usage share. Aggregately, IE 6, 8 and 9 -- the most common IE versions currently in the wild -- handle roughly half of all Web traffic. Time will tell whether IE10 will help Microsoft expand its Internet footprint.
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