Microsoft Using Windows Update To Market IE 9

This morning, Mary-Jo Foley’s – All About Microsoft column reported that Microsoft is pushing out IE 9, via Windows Update, months ahead of schedule.

Mary-Jo went on to say “Some users were none too happy about this, given they had been expecting Microsoft to push the update to them — and their users (if they are administrators for larger networks) — for a couple more months.”

Curious, I opened my Windows Update applet and sure enough, there it was – marked as “Important”.


My first though was neutral – it’s understandable that Microsoft is being  aggressive in IE 9 product placement. Particularly, when Firefox’s unprecedented and record setting downloads continue to impress. Since I’m not an IE user, I simply removed the update notice.

Later in the morning while cruising on my home page, up popped the following – despite the fact I have pop-ups blocked automatically in Firefox 4, which, all things considered, does less than an adequate job.


This time my first thought was not neutral – it annoyed me that MSN overrode my Browser settings, and interrupted my session, to market a Microsoft specific product.

I’m well aware that Browsers hand off volumes of information to responding web sites, but I have an aversion to being reminded of that fact in this way.

I have no objection to Microsoft providing a link to IE 9 on my home page, after all – it’s their page.


But, I do object to this type of direct marketing for a product I have no interest in.

You might think that this is a petty, don’t get your knickers in a knot, complaint, but maybe not. It clearly illustrates the point that Regular reader John B. made in a comment on yesterday’s article – Take Control Of Your Internet Privacy With BetterPrivacy Firefox Add-on.

John was right when he stated “The ad purveyors exploit our laziness by pretending they are our friends and are only wishing to make the internet more user-friendly. In fact they are grooming us for their own ends – sound familiar?”

If you’re a long time Internet user, then you’re familiar with the scourge of pop-ups we had to contend with previously- until Browsers gave us the ability to apply controls to restrict unwanted notices, advertising, etc.

In my view, Microsoft’s use of a pop-up is regressive, and takes me to a place I’d rather not be. But then, as John B. alludes to – users have been conditioned not to complain. Except perhaps, “mouthy” people like me.

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Filed under Browsers, Freeware, Internet Explorer, Microsoft, Point of View

8 responses to “Microsoft Using Windows Update To Market IE 9

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    That’s pretty rude of them isn’t it? I guess I’m lucky in that I still use that old OS, XP so I don’t get prompted to update to IE9. About the only time I do use IE8 is for Windows updates.
    BTW, since things have settled my end, I have given some serious thought to your invitation for a guest article. I have something in mind, and I will email you once I have it down pat.

    • Hey Mal,

      It’s definitely annoying. If it was a one shot deal – maybe OK. But, each time I land on my home page I get this solicitation. It’s just bad form.

      Looking forward to your submission. If I can help in any way, let me know.



  2. As far as admins getting IE9, it shouldn’t be much of an issue anyway, because admins would have their own windows update server and have all the computers on the network to look for updates from that server.

    If a network admin don’t wnat IE9 rolled out, they just need to tell the server not to deploy it. And the job is done.

  3. Hi Bill, great post. I definitely agree that it is annoying when your browser settings are overridden. What Microsoft did to market IE9 was definitely more aggressive and I can see why people would be frustrated. Do you have any recommendations to block the pop-ups or will they show up despite setting changes? Thanks.

    • Hey TuneUp,

      Unfortunately, certain popups will appear despite our best efforts. From Mozilla – “Although Firefox blocks most pop-ups, some websites may show pop-ups using uncovered methods, even when blocked.”

      In a real sense, this could be considered hacking but, as in this case, since it’s Microsoft doing the “hacking”, the sheeple don’t complain. I’m not part of the herd, and I do find it offensive, and I have made my views known.

      If we’re ever going to be successful in training users to navigate the Internet appropriately, then we need established stakeholders to play by the rules. This “over the top” behavior from Microsoft impacts negatively, and is a step in the wrong direction.



  4. Hi Bill,
    I have no issue them making it available through Windows Update. From everything I’ve heard including a very good critique from Steve Gibson, it is superior to IE8 ,especially to home users.
    On the other hand your statistics would show I’m using Firefox 4 if you were looking at that data.
    As for pushing it on Firefox users, Google does the same thing all the time, and yes it annoys me.

    • Hi Mark,

      Agreed – offering IE 9 through Update is appropriate.

      I hear ya on Google’s approach (and Microsoft’s) – puts me in mind of door-to-door solicitors. Annoying.