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Automatic Update scares some but it's the primary way most people get Internet Explorer 7. I'm not scared, but I'll show some alternatives anyway.

Now that IE7 is available to XP users without the Windows Genuine Advantage check a number of my friends want to try it out on their Win-XP Home or XP-Pro.

I understand you need to turn on windows auto update. This has a lot of people concerned that they may get more than they bargained for, myself included. This stems from the recent microsoft 'stealth' updates a few weeks back I think.

My question! Is there a way to get IE7 without turning on the auto update? Can you run IE7 next to or with IE6 on the same machine?

Taking your questions in reverse order:

  • I'm not aware of an easy way to have both IE6 and IE7 on the same machine at the same time.

  • I still recommend using Windows Update.

  • You can easily get IE7 without using Windows Update.

Let me expand on each of those.

IE7 is an update to IE6.

That means that if IE6 is on your machine then installing IE7 will simply replace it. There's no easy way to have both on at the same time, as it's simply not designed for it.

So you're welcome to try, but you'll most likely end up with only IE7.

Now, I keep saying "there's no easy way", because of course there is a hard way.

I won't go into much detail here since it really is well beyond the needs of most typical computer users, but one approach is to use Virtual Machine technology such as that offered by Parallels or VMWare. You could run several separate instances of Windows XP in different VM's and each instance could have a different version of IE installed.

It's non-trivial and it's a bit of work, but it's possible.

Automatic Update is not Evil

I know that there are many people who disagree strongly with that position, and I'm not going to convince them otherwise.

However, all my machines have Windows Automatic Updates turned on, and unless you really know what you're doing, I strongly recommend the same. Windows Automatic Updates enabled helps keep you protected, well, automatically.

"... the risk of not running Automatic Updates in my opinion far outweighs any perceived risks of running it."

So what about the 'stealth' update that everyone's so concerned about?

My position is simple:

  • The actual stealth update was benign in intent. (It was a simple update to the updater itself.) Yes, unfortunately the update did have a bug. This can happen to any update, stealth or not.

  • The problem with stealth update was more about disclosure than technology. The disclosure, or rather the lack of disclosure or documentation, was bungled by Microsoft.

  • There are many more ways other than automatic updates that Microsoft or any software vendor could be using to put unexpected things on your machine. If you really don't trust Microsoft or any software vendor to that degree you probably shouldn't be using their software.

  • For the vast majority of people the risk of not running Automatic Updates in my opinion far outweighs any perceived risks of running it. It's simply too easy to miss a critical update or miss taking it in a timely fashion.

So, as you can gather, I'd have you use Windows Automatic Update and take IE7 that way.

But what if you still don't want to?

Getting IE7 Manually

There are two approaches to getting IE7 without using Automatic Updates.

The Windows Update Website: If you visit the Windows Update site, you'll be informed of many updates that are available for your computer. Bungled "stealth" updates aside, Windows Automatic Updates only includes "Critical" updates. The Windows Update site includes additional updates as well, and more importantly, let's you pick and choose which you want to have installed. So, pick IE7.

Download IE7 yourself: Internet Explorer has its own page on the Microsoft web site, and from there you can download and install IE7 directly. In additional, that page includes links to Microsoft's comparisons of IE6 and IE7 and their take on why it's worth upgrading.

Article C3176 - October 11, 2007 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Dan Ullman
October 11, 2007 12:52 PM

VMs won't work with XP unless you are either willing to buy a new copy of XP or restore a copy of the xp/VM every thirty days when your non-registered copy of XP expires. Your virtual machine is not going to look the same as your real machine so XP is going to insist that you activate it.

October 11, 2007 3:01 PM

Dan Ullman: Wrong on all counts. Microsoft supply a free WinXP Virtual PC image (with either IE6 or IE7) specifically for the purpose of facilitating web development.

Old Salt
October 11, 2007 9:40 PM

IE7 installs over IE6 but if you don't like 7 simply delete it and you're back to 6.

Ken B
October 12, 2007 2:17 PM


You may have missed this notice on the URL you posted for the "free WinXP Virtual PC image":

   This VPC image will expire on December 7, 2007.

Ken Crook
October 13, 2007 9:07 PM

Real question : Is it IE7 worth the hassle?

Everyone I know who installed IE7 did not like it, or had problems with it and quickly uninstalled it.

Michael Horowitz
October 13, 2007 10:34 PM

IE7 has been available via Windows update from the get-go, about a year ago.
This no longer seems to be the case however.
See: IE7 is missing and a sad tale of tech support

October 15, 2007 7:01 AM

> Simon, You may have missed this notice ...
> This VPC image will expire on December 7, 2007.

Well, yeah. The images are refreshed periodically; you download a new image with the latest updates to IE and the webdev tools every quarter. It's not like it's going away after December 7th and not coming back, which is what you seem to be implying.

James Hallam
October 16, 2007 9:59 AM

If you want to still have IE6 or lower as well as IE7 then you might want to have a look at , a simple installer of IE3 up to IE6 as standalone programs. It works up to WinXP but you're going to have to go the VirtualPC route for Vista. I've had it working perfectly on WinXP for at least a year now and use it installed on VirtualPC for my Vista machine. Hope it helps.

March 27, 2009 2:56 AM

goto myspace with ie6 installed. It will tell you to use ie7 and to upgrade. Do the upgrade from their site. They will install ie7 which is provided by myspace with no validation required! hope that helps.

Internet Explorer 7
January 12, 2011 1:30 PM

Sorry, something you said at the very beginning got my attention. I don't me to scrutinize your post (I did read it and think it very good), but how should the Windows Genuine Advantage Test affect whether or not you can have Internet Explorer 7 on your Windows Xp? Wouldn't the Xp pass the test?

Microsoft will occasionally make certain software available to machines that are verified as having genuine copies of windows. It's not a technical limitation, but an anti-piracy technique.

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