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Microsoft Pushing Out IE8 Through Auto Update

Microsoft has begun pushing out Internet Explorer 8, the latest version of its Web browser, to Windows users who are signed up for automatic software updates.

If your system has Automatic Updates turned on, you may have already been prompted to install the software. Whether you use IE on a regular basis or not, it's probably a good idea to accept this update, for a couple of reasons.

One is speed, both in startup and in normal browsing. From my own, unscientific testing, IE8 simply runs quite a bit faster and smoother than IE7. Various Web sites and blogs have sought to pit IE8's speed against those of other browsers; I won't attempt that here. My take: If you must have any version of IE installed, this is the one you want.

The other is improved security. IE8 ships with a feature called SmartScreen Filter, which is designed to block users from visiting phishing sites or Web sites that try to foist malicious software. In my limited testing, this feature worked great against phishing sites, but not so great against more than a dozen of the top sites distributing rogue ant-virus products, as listed by (please don't visit any of the sites listed at that page unless you really know what you're doing).


The only real negative experience I've had with IE8 so far came while I was installing the program. On my Vista SP1 system, the update took quite some time, required a restart, and then continued the install after the reboot. The whole process took about 15 minutes.

Also, when you start IE8 for the first time, it walks you through a lengthy number of configuration option screens. Enabling some of these features may involve sharing additional information about your browsing habits with Microsoft and/or with third party companies (Microsoft provides a privacy statement for each option, but they are all summarized at this link).

For example, the installation process also asks whether you want to turn on the "suggested sites" feature, which uses your browsing history to make personalized Web site suggestions.

Another prompt asks you to select your default seach proivder(s). Yet another screen asks you to download updates for search providers (a confusingly named option that essentially means grab a list of the latest available search providers). Users are then asked whether they want to enable Accelerators (various Web services available with a right-click).

Users also are prompted to turn on the SmartScreen Filter, make IE the default browser, and import settings from other browsers. One option that users may want to consider enabling is the "use compability view" option, which tries to help make Web sites designed for older browsers display better in IE8.

What about you Security Fix readers? Have you already installed IE8? Tell us about your experience with this browser in the comments below.

By Brian Krebs  |  April 30, 2009; 3:27 PM ET
Categories:  New Patches , Safety Tips  | Tags: automatic updates, ie8, microsoft  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Facebook Among Top Phished Web Sites
Next: Hackers Break Into Virginia Health Professions Database, Demand Ransom


my experience has been mixed with IE8. I upgraded one XP (professioanl version) & one Vista successfully but on another XP (Home version), it crashed the system when I attempted to use IE8. It also would not permit me to use Restore to go back in time before the installation. And to clarify, after a re-boot and not running IE8, I was unable to use Restore at all as it crashed the system. I eventuallyu was able to delete IE8 and return to IE7 and had no problems. I even tried to re-install IE8 again figuring it was just a snafu with the first installation but the same thing happened. i'm back to IE7 on the one XP Home machine until i can figure out what is wrong. I tried researching through Google and there does appear to be some others with exact same problem.

Posted by: crash52 | April 30, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Been using IE8 with Win7 beta for a couple of months. Have trouble with PDFs, does not restore previous windows(tabs)on restart like Firefox(it does however when you crash - but anything you have to sign into you have to re-sign into{My Yahoo, WaPo, NYT etc}).Use the compatability view for almost all websites.
Couple of +s, right click on scroll bar for top-bottom option and click on the arrow in the favorites menu for open in new tab. Neither available in Firefox.

Posted by: jimbo1949 | April 30, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I updated a Vista and an XP machine at the same time and the Vista took a lot longer. In fact I thought it hung up. But patience was rewarded. IE8 has a Firefox that I like: double click a URL field and you've selected that field. I haven't tried any of the features or the tutorial but I think I'll check it out before long. So far it looks good.

Posted by: b_100666 | April 30, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

To minimize stress-related hair loss and cursing at your monitor,
wait for I.E. 8's first Service Pack before allowing this browser onto your system.

Just as you shouldn't install a major Firefox version increment until several updates have been issued, such as update #6, e.g.

Posted by: taskforceken | April 30, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I hate the new ie8. I use the site quite often. every time I click the back button, I get WEB PAGE EXPIRED. AND I then have to click refresh, the retry. I have made sure that do not save encrypted pages to disk is unchecked but it doesn't seem to help. This is thoroughly annoying and I have googled it to death to no avail. Unfortunately, I can not go back to ie7. My moto is if it ain't broke, don't fix it! That what they keep doing, changing things and it sucks. There was absolutely nothing wrong with ie7. Now there is with ie8.

Thanks for nothing MS.

Posted by: jhowardsmith | April 30, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Change your Automatic Update settings to "Notify but do not download or install."

You should install security updates fairly quickly (wait a few days in case a patch causes major problems), but browser upgrades should be given much more time.

Microsoft always tries to cram a million and one new features in each major upgrade, and no amout of beta testing will uncover all of the bugs that show up upon public release. In reality, the early adopters are the real beta-testers.

Posted by: taskforceken | April 30, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

"For example, the installation process also asks whether you want to turn on the "suggested sites" feature, which uses your browsing history to make personalized Web site suggestions." suggested by MS.

Also the anti-phishing site blocks suggested by MS.

Not to mention that IE8 is compatible with various websites and 3rd party suggested by MS.

Haven't you learned yet?

Use MS software, your entire life will be controlled by MS.

Posted by: dubya19391 | April 30, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

1. Why has Microsoft designated IE8 as a "critical update"? Is there a critical security issue it fixes? Or is Microsoft misusing the "critical update" designation again?

2. Mr. Krebs' post does not identify any security issues that IE8 solves for people who do not use IE8 to browse the web. Do I need to install IE8 if I only use Firefox?

Posted by: saki1 | April 30, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

If you wish to inhibit IE8 installation but get other MS updates, look up IE8BlockerToolkit.EXE on your favorite search engine. It is a Microsoft script which generates a registry entry that, in turn, blocks the installation of IE8 until you are ready for it.

Posted by: artyaffe | April 30, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

LOL but if you're happy running Windows and IE8 is simply better than IE7, why not install IE8? So what if it takes a half-hour for the install. Likewise the "customization process". If you're happy running MS software, why not just accept all the default choices? Do you really know what all that software is doing, when you run it?

The thing is, MS works to its own "purposes" just like every other software company out there. If you can't trust them, then you shouldn't trust MS either. I sure as hell wouldn't let MS decide what software (not to mention websites) I should and shouldn't trust.

Posted by: dubya19391 | April 30, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse


Why is anyone still running IE-anything? Firefox isn't perfect, but it has much better security than the swiss cheese of IE. And, it runs much, much faster than IE, esp. if you're running it on a Mac. I have it on a MacBook and a Vista desktop. The Mac version is visibly faster.

For that matter, why is anyone still running Windows? Just so you can pay Bill Gates $125 for W7 to fix all the problems he sold you with Vista?

Posted by: hisroc | April 30, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I checked a couple of other things and Firefox has a lot of work to do to bring its graphics up to IE8. I don't think that will happen in my lifetime.

Posted by: b_100666 | April 30, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

@Saki1 -- Strictly speaking, you don't need to update to IE8 if you're using IE7. However, Microsoft will eventually push it out to everyone, each patch Tuesday. I believe Microsoft has a tool that is supposed to block the installation through Windows update, but I still need to find out whether that works on a one-off basis.

Also, even if you prefer another browser, it's generally a good idea to keep software like IE up to date. I still use IE for a couple of things fairly regularly, and I'd prefer to have the latest version of the browser for that. Your mileage may vary. If you don't want it, you don't have to install it.

What's more, if you DO install it, and decide you don't like it, you can always uninstall it.

Posted by: BTKrebs | April 30, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I went ahead and installed the IE8 update, and allowed it to import my "favorites from another browser". As with all other times I tried this, far fewer less than all the favorites imported. Why is IE (6, 7, and now 8) so bad about importing bookmarks from other browsers, especially FireFox?

This time the import stopped somewhere in the process, no messages or logs that I can find, and impored in total about 25% of the favorites from FF. I have my FF favorites organized into nine or ten main folders. In the new IE8, three of those folders have imported correctly.

Please pardon the rant!

Posted by: AnonymousReader1 | April 30, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

After checking with our support staff, it seems IE8 cannot correctly run the (web-based) state mandated purchasing software that we use began using last year.
So IE8 obviously isn't better for everything.

Posted by: j0nharris | May 1, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I installed IE 8 several weeks ago.
I lost the mouse "snap to" feature (THIS IS THE ONLY APP IT DOES NOT WORK IN).

Finally called the MS Tech Support (routed me to India). I had to first ask the guy if he knew about the Snap To feature. He did not.
After having me do the PC sharing with his PC connection - I demonstarted the "Snap To" via the control panel, deleting a file from Windows Explorer and then deleting an email in IE 8.
The final resolution was - no answer. They have to report this up the chain to have their developers get a fix. So I commented that I'd wait for the next SP, that it may be included.

my web page refreshes seem to phase in while I'm in Yahoo (1/3 of a page at a time displays - it is very fast but still a delay). This only happens in IE 8. After uninstalling IE 8 and reinstalling IE 7 - SNAP TO and page refreshes were king again.
Reinstalled IE 8, same problems.

I use IE 8 at home primarily for the security functions (I work in the international infosec / IA arena).
We use IE at work because of the security posture of the network...

If anyone has a real answer (no comments, remarks or rants about moving to Firefox, Apple, *NUX or Mozilla please) on the "Snap To" and the page refresh delays, let me know.

Posted by: gudguy1 | May 1, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I installed IE8 a few weeks ago.
Since I declined to use all the newer "features", it doesn't seem like it's that different than IE7.
I would recommend the average PC user to wait on installing IE*. Because...

IE8 just isn't "compatible" enough with the websites I visit (it seems like 20% or more). MS godlike stance is to call these sites "incompatible". I have to elect "compatibility view" to get them to load properly. This is not down automatically, and I haven't found a way to may "compatibility mode" permanent.

Call me crazy, but I don't appreciate MS using my web browsing experience as a club to make otherwise perfectly acceptable websites toe MS's line.

Posted by: fpink3 | May 1, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

It is commendable that MS is updating their web browser more often. And IE 8 may be a wonderful option for many users. Yet, the categorization of IE 8 as critical w/in the MS updates service is troubling.

Specifically, the average user may not understand that the web browser that formerly worked great for them now is a beta application -- that may or may not work well with their favorite web sites. And let's not fool ourselves into thinking that the initial release is bug-free.

Also, the average user may or may not understand the concept of installing a patch to prevent this update from occuring ( Nor might they be able to navigate a downgrade of the browser. Furthermore, what if the downgrade fails or corrupts the end-user's machine? How is that any different from malware damaging a computer?

What would I have done differently? Make the IE 8 patch available, but _optional_ within the MS Updates service. After IE 8 goes through its first major patch (service pack?), only then should it possibly be classified as a critical update.

Those who *choose* to install this new piece of software may do so. Those who do not or who can not afford to run IE 8 then have the option to postpone the update until they are ready.

Posted by: CB12 | May 1, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I downloaded IE8 to my home system (XP Home, SP3) a while back. After I went through the set-up process, I was told that I needed to get tyhe latest updates from Microsoft Update; I tried several times, but I could not access Microsoft Update through IE8. I may install this version, and see if the situation has improved. (By the way, I use Firefox for meverything except Microsoft Update.)

Posted by: rcblair | May 1, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Contrary to Microsoft claims and Brian's experience, I find IE8 to be slower than IE7 -- both on a WinXP desktop system and a brand new HP HDX WinVista notebook. Not just in loading pages, but in launching a browser session. I am also very annoyed that IE8 did not fix the obvious shortcoming of IE7 that allows you to whitelist certain "security" inconsistences, like when logging in to Yahoo! Mail (because the security certificate is not from the same domain). IE advises me not to visit the site with a red-X warning. Firefox does not have this problem: I created an exception for it the first time, and now don't have to bother with it.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | May 1, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

so I have set Windows updates to notify me and ask me before installing. The shield shows up in my tray telling me I have an update (offering IE8). It seems my only option is to "download" or "cancel". I don't want to install IE8. How do I make this annoying shield go away? Do I have to opt out of updates?

Posted by: osjohns | May 1, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I just installed IE8 yesterday. THe install was nothing out of the ordinary especially, but I have yet to load a site. It gets stuck when the progress bar is less than to the halfway point. Just sits there saying "connecting to site" in the status bar. I use Firefox anyway, but thought I'd give it a shot. Using XP SP3, on a semi-potent processor and a good bit of memory.

Posted by: Tojo1 | May 1, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

and I should add.... I can't get to any sites except Why would that be the one site I can get to? Is it cached or something, permanently?

Posted by: Tojo1 | May 1, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

::::can't resist commenting::::

Pushing IE8 via Auto Update isn't the issue as the user still has complete control over whether or not to actually install it (see link below).

The real issue are those that, for whatever reason (there are many), just click through the process without a firm grasp of what they just set in motion. This is the same reason so many end up with malware on their system.

To minimize problems, first and foremost run your system as a non-admin for everyday use. Second, learn a bit about the software you're about to install (pros/cons, should you really install it?). Last, keep your system well maintained, first by minimizing the amount of software installed (keep the system lean and mean) as well as performing tasks such as a disk check and defrag at least once a month. Frankly, if you don't take the time for these things, you're just asking for trouble.

As for me, been using IE for years (don't care for other browsers) without a single security issue (contrary to popular perception, it's not difficult to do, see above). Tried the IE8 Release Candidate back in January, then the final release back in March. No problems with installation or use. It seems to run a bit faster than IE7 (on Windows XP SP3).

I also like the security improvements and various new features, especially the Favorites Bar and accelerators.

For a good review of IE8, see

Posted by: xAdmin | May 2, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse


Other than turning off AutoUpdate completely, there should be an option to check the update in question and hide it or stop it from notifying you.


"Internet Explorer 8 includes a suite of features under the umbrella term ‘Compatibility View’. These features give users a way to mitigate website compatibility problems they may encounter while browsing the web – compatibility issues often caused by Internet Explorer 8’s better implementation of web standards. By default, Internet Explorer 8 displays content in its most standards compliant way and this can cause compatibility problems on websites that still expect the older, less interoperable behavior from IE."

Making IE8 more standards compliant is a good thing in the long run for everyone regardless of browser in use. With IE8, Microsoft is in the process of finally fixing the website design issues they created with previous less standards compliant browsers.

Posted by: xAdmin | May 2, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I have had an experience of incompatibility on two different systems running XP and AOL 9.1 after loading IE8. AOL could not figure out the problem. Remove IE8 from both systems and went back to IE7

Posted by: real3dco | May 4, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

An update to my previous post: the IE8 download I tried to install was downloaded a few weeks ago from the Microsoft website; it didn't work out, so I uninstalled it. This weekend, I installed the download pushed by Microsoft upsate; no problems that I can tell. It looks like there was a problem with the first download.

Posted by: rcblair | May 4, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I've upgraded a few computers with this. My thoughts:

1) I certainly hope that end users aren't the ones stuck answering those confusing post-install questions. Are they per account? Hmmm, I guess I'll check tomorrow.

2) At Microsoft, "Quality is Job 1.1". Get ready for a load of updates to this s/w.

3) I only use IE when Firefox just won't view it, which is extremely rare.

4) God help you if you are near a disk full limit. I don't know how much bigger it is, but if you max out you will be screwed -- big time!

5) Lets face it, MS writes s/w that a lot of people use, but they don't write "good" s/w. IE 8 is no exception.

6) I'd like truth in the questions, like:
Would you like to stop using your search engine and use Microsoft's so we can steer you to all the sites that will help our bottom line?

7) I've had problems with IE 8 and Hotmail! This site is not something maintained in some's basement, dreamed up by two guys, a case of beer and 2 pizzas (ok, it was, but MS bought them out years ago) This is a MS web site!! If they can't get their browser to connect to their website, they've proven how bad they are with software.

Which, while I'm at it, the hotmail website has been down a lot lately. That is what happens when you try to use a Windows machine as a server. They don't make server s/w, they just make user s/w that people use as server s/w.

Posted by: cyberfool | May 5, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

So glad I switched to Mac.

Posted by: nonagon | May 5, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

IE sucks!

Posted by: bacara | May 5, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I have tried to download and install IE8 about four times on my XP driven system (XP is up to date as are all my other MS products) and each time, after install, it hangs up when I start to use it. I uninstall and things are OK, it reverts to IE7, but it's perplexing why this is happening. My go to browser is now Safari 4 beta--pretty and fast--though on my Dell D600 it freezes if I try to use 2 windows at a time; leaving me with Firefox, which works fine though I can't get it to look right.


Posted by: howardstuff | May 5, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I have been using IE to edit our church web pages. Guess what: can't place a cursor into pages opened in IE8 (File Open, Browse, Select, open, View, Source)to do the editing.

When I open a page in Notepad, it looks far more complicated than anything I saw in IE7. I don't really know html coding, just help out with the editing, and found it fairly straightforward in IE7. With Notepad, I'll have to go a little bit mad to master the coding and the error potential will be very high.

(Curiously, Firefox hasn't let me edit pages either since a couple of updates ago.)

What's with these guys? Is this an unintended consequence of some security fix, a bug, or what?

Posted by: swiftycanoe | May 5, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

The solution to editing html in IE8, (suggested in another Forum):

Instead of View>Source
Select File>Edit with Notepad

Posted by: swiftycanoe | May 6, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I work for an online computer repair company ( - we just released a blog posting on our experiences with Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) -, as well as an article on the significant Microsoft Updates for Microsoft Office that were released at the same time -

With regards to the updates for Microsoft Office that's a 300MB+ download and as a result is a pretty lengthy install - not something you want to start when you are about to unplug your laptop to rush home (or to class).

Posted by: DublinRanch | May 7, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

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