Today on The Heise Online, they mention that Microsoft is set to automatically download and install the latest version of Internet Explorer that manages to run on the particular Windows version installed. Since XP is the oldest thing they support, those users will get the obsolete Internet Explorer 8 browser, and Windows 7 users will no doubt get IE 9, which is only barely an improvement over IE 8.
I have no idea how they plan on updating Windows Vista users, but that will no doubt be another surprise for anyone foolish enough to actually be using it. There is IE 9 support for Vista (Which is where they will cut off support), but to get it you need a humongous “platform update” full of select backported crap from Windows 7.
Regardless of what version of Windows the user has, an Internet Explorer update is always dangerous since Microsoft continues to claim it is a system component and not a web browser. It means that at best, you need to reboot your computer, and if the upgrade goes wrong it can mean anything from Internet Explorer not working to the Windows shell failing in inappropriate ways. Internet Explorer installations and upgrades have had a significant number of cases of destroying the operating system beyond being salvageable since at least Windows 95.
No decent operating system claims the web browser is an integrated component that can’t be removed. The Internet Explorer situation is a continuing monopoly abuse and Internet Explorer itself is a relic from the 1990s, when Microsoft tried killing Netscape by forcibly installing their own web browser into Windows.
While we’re on the topic, most other operating systems don’t need to reboot after the user updates their web browser, file manager, media player, email client…..
This “almost comical if so many Microsoft victims weren’t suffering through it” situation makes me wonder what kind of a contrived setup those Microsoft funded “studies” used to get “99.999% uptime”. As soon as you apply any patch or update for Windows, it needs rebooted before the new files are used. Even if the user doesn’t want to reboot. Windows will pester them until they do or better yet, start a countdown and reboot the computer without regard to any work the user has left open and unsaved.
This was one factor, out of many, that frustrated me enough to leave Windows. Another factor is that they routinely triage security patches and frequently leave critical flaws open until the next month, like they did with BEAST this month.
That graph is funny, isn’t it? It’s not that Windows has gotten safer, it’s simply that Microsoft is stretching to classify updates that once would have rated critical as “important” based on the factors of “security improvements” in Windows that are often ineffective. (ASLR not being as random as it could be. NX/DEP being off by default for 32-bit software, many applications don’t bother using stack smashing protection because it exposes their programming flaws and causes them to crash, etc.) In many cases the user is left less than protected by what passes as Windows “security improvements” which is why malware is still rampant.
How can any human being tolerate this?