But the rapid release tempo of IE -- accelerated this cycle, with just 7-8 months between IE10's and IE11's release on Windows 7 -- hasn't been welcomed by everyone. Enterprises are struggling to comprehend, much less manage, the faster pace that Microsoft's kicked into gear with Windows 8.1, the update that followed its predecessor, Windows 8, by just a year.
And the constant turnover of IE versions is at the top of IT's frustration list.
According to Michael Silver, a Gartner analyst who focuses on Microsoft and its operating system strategies, "IE is the biggest inhibitor to continuous upgrades" for corporations.
In an hour-long presentation last week at Gartner's annual IT conference, Silver and fellow Gartner analyst Stephen Kleynhans outlined the changes companies should expect in Windows and Office over the next five years, and how to deal with those changes.
IE is a special stumbling block for companies trying to keep up with Microsoft's new cadence. "The faster pace is absolutely the biggest pain point," said Silver in an interview last week. "The problem with faster release cycles is that [enterprises] don't know if their apps will work with each new version of Windows and IE."
Some enterprises have hundreds of in-house, line-of-business (LOB) apps that work with IE8, but not with any newer Microsoft browser, and so have standardized on the 2009 application. While such companies may be interested in adopting Windows 8.1, they simply won't because of the IE issue, said Silver.
The blocking toolkit will not bar upgrades on systems where the IE11 Developer or Release Previews has been installed, and also cannot prevent users from manually installing the new browser. The minuscule kit -- just 98 kilobytes -- has been posted on Microsoft's Download Center website.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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