Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) browser will require Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), a not-yet-released major update to the operating system, the company said today.
According to a FAQ posted on the company's site, Windows 7 users will need to install SP1 prior to adding IE9. People running Windows Vista must have that operating system's SP2 in place.
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The Ars Technica technology site first reported on the Windows 7 SP1 requirement Thursday.
Microsoft has not divulged the release dates of Windows 7 SP1 or IE9, but both are expected to appear in the first half of 2011. That six-month window covers Microsoft's current plans for Windows 7 SP1, while many experts believe the company will ship the final of IE9 in April 2011 to coincide with its annual MIX conference.
The FAQ suggests that the final versions of both two products will ship simultaneously, or nearly so.
The beta of IE9 that launched Sept. 15 requires four already-available Windows 7 updates -- two published in June, the others in August -- that are primarily graphics-related bug fixes or that add support for IE9 functionality.
But the final will apparently demand more, a curious move since Microsoft has repeatedly characterized Windows 7 SP1 as nothing more than a collection of previously-released security patches and other fixes. Unlike 2004's Windows XP SP2, Windows 7 SP1 will not include new features.
"Organizations must plan, pilot and deploy Internet Explorer 9 as part of or after a Windows 7 SP1 deployment," Microsoft maintained in the FAQ.
The SP1 requirement may be derived from the four updates already available -- they would be packaged in SP1 -- or from future, not-yet-released updates -- or a combination of the two.
This isn't the first time Microsoft has blocked some users from running IE9. The new browser will not run on Windows XP , the still-dominant nine-year-old OS.