False alarm! Windows Update not pushing out IE9

In spite of what you may have read on Microsoft's @IE Twitter posts, Internet Explorer 9 is not getting pushed onto desktops

It all started on March 17 when the folks in charge of Microsoft's @IE official Twitter account responded to a question about manually downloading Internet Explorer 9. The tweet said: "@aiomedia IE9 roll out automatically via Windows Update on March 21. It will take some time depending on where you live in the world."

The tweet floundered in some obscurity, although it was picked up by TheNextWeb and repeated in an article entitled "Internet Explorer 9 to be forced on world March 21st via Windows Update."

Yesterday, the tweet and article went viral, at least among plugged-in admins. Folks I know pulled out their pitchforks and set torches on fire, ready to string up the folks at Microsoft who were pushing Internet Explorer 9 out the Windows Update chute at this early stage of the game.

Microsoft's SUS/WSUS KB article 894199 didn't help. The definitive repository on all new Windows Updates said that "New Non-Security Content" would be released on March 21. The nonsecurity content? Internet Explorer 9. There was no mention at all about automatic push, or whether managed PCs would be among those tapped, via WSUS.

Rumors started flying among admin ranks that Microsoft was about to dump IE9 on the masses, on March 21, no less, the day before the usual trickle of fourth-Tuesday nonsecurity patches.

Then we saw another tweet from the official @IE source. About 3 pm on March 21, Redmond time, the Voice of Microsoft tweeted: "@swax1 it's rolling out to about 10 percent of users starting today, and will take some time to ramp up through Update WW."

An hour later, we saw this correction: "@swax1 One correction on my previous reply: Windows Update will start with Beta/RC users first, won't roll out to all users yet."

Best I can tell, that's about the time every admin around the world started to freak out: an unannounced, unanticipated rollout of a new version of Internet Explorer, pushed through Windows Update, and heaven knows what else. It's the stuff nightmares are made of.

Frantic messages on the Microsoft Patch Management Mailing List (you can subscribe at PatchManagement.org) begged for clarification. Finally, around 5 o'clock in the evening of March 21, Doug Neal on the Microsoft Update team, sent this message to subscribers:

We're working to correct this miscommunication.

To be clear, IE9 RTW released to AU/WU today for IE9 Beta and RC users only. Only AU/WU machines with IE9 Beta or RC will see this update -- and it will be un-selected by default. Which is why there's no broad communications yet (perhaps there should have been).

For machines not managed by WSUS, SMS, or SCCM, IE9 is not yet available since we don't release pre-release content (or, in this case, specifically targeted updates to a subset of machines) to WSUS.

I can't speak to future release dates, but I encourage all admins to deploy the IE9 Blocker Toolkit to unmanaged machines where they need to block the installation of IE9 for AppCompat or testing reasons.

Translating that into English, Microsoft is only making IE9 available on PCs that already have the IE9 Beta or Release Candidate installed but don't yet have the final version of IE9. More than that, the update will only be available through Windows Update or Microsoft Update -- if your company uses WSUS, SMS, or SCCM for central update management, IE9 won't appear on managed PCs. In order to install IE9, a user with Administrator priveleges has to specifically go to Windows Update or Microsoft Update, check the appropriate box for IE9, and click Install Updates.

Doug also advises that IE9, when it finally hits WSUS, will be classifed as an Update Rollup, not a Tool, Update, or Feature pack. (Microsoft says that WSUS Update Rollups are a "Cumulative set of hotfixes, security updates, critical updates, and updates packaged together for easy deployment" -- doesn't sound like IE9 to me.) You're advised to make sure that your site's auto-approval settings are "set appropriately."

Be kind to your admin. If he or she looks particularly haggard today, now you know why.

This story, "False alarm! Windows Update not pushing out IE9," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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