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Internet Explorer 8 is being pushed out through Windows Update and Automatic Updates. If you're not ready, there are ways to block the IE8 update.

In a prior article, I discussed uninstalling Internet Explorer 8 once it had been installed.

IE8 is now also becoming available via automatic updates. While it's not a required update, it is marked as "important" and will persist such that if you do nothing else you'll need to turn it off each time.

We'll look at how to turn it off, and keep it off, in Windows XP.

You should have automatic updates turned on, but in most cases configured "notify" or "download and notify" so that you can choose both when to install updates and - as in a situation like this - which updates to install.

If you do so you'll eventually get this icon:

Auto Update icon

Click on it, and you'll get the list of available updates:

IE8 in the auto-update list of available updates

Now you can, as I've done here, simply uncheck the IE8 offering, and proceed with the update. Once you do so, you'll get this option:

Hide Updates option

Check the "don't notify me" option, and proceed with your update.

If you visit the Windows Update web site to get your updates, you'll be asked "Express" or "Custom":

Express or Custom options at Windows Update

Always select Custom to keep track of what Windows Update is about to do to your machine.

You will likely see the following "High Priority": update:

IE8 in Windows Update

Uncheck the checkbox to deselect the install, and click on the boxed plus sign to expand the description (this may happen automatically):

IE8 in Windows Update, Expanded

Check the box labeled "Don't show this update again", and proceed with the rest of the update.

Now, after doing so, you'll likely see the following warning, either immediately or the next time you return to Windows Update:

Windows Update Hidden Updates Warning

Obviously, Microsoft considers Internet Explorer 8 an important update.

The good news is that hiding the update in Automatic Updates and in Windows Update appear to be linked. So when the time comes that you want to install Internet Explorer 8, you can simply return here to Windows Update and click the "Restore them now" link.

But until then, you can continue to say "no thanks" and keep control of what gets installed, and not be annoyed by the persistent "you have updates" icon.

One last option: Microsoft has made available a small utility to block IE8 updates. This utility is designed for administrators of large numbers of computers, but can be used by individuals as well. It's a small batch file that you run in a Windows Command Shell. In essence, it does what's been described above, except that it does appear to remove the "You've Hidden Important Updates" warning as well.

C:\>IE80Blocker /B

Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Blocking deployment of Internet Explorer 8 on the local machine

The operation completed successfully

It also has a switch which, when the time comes, allows you to reverse the action. It appears to work at a slightly higher level than the Windows Update work above, since after reversing the action of this utility you may still need to visit Windows Update enable the hidden important updates.

Article C3730 - May 13, 2009 « »

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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?

May 16, 2009 7:03 AM

Unless there is a VERY specific reason for not installing IE8, I believe it is irresponsible to discourage people from installing this rather important update to WINDOWS, not just the browser.

Explorer is deeply tied into the entire OS, and the rendering engine is used by many other Windows applications.

And it also undermines the legions of web developers out there wishing and hoping that people will FINALLY upgrade to IE8, and hoping the automatic update push will be our salvation. Why? Because IE8 is the closest Microsoft has ever come to building a reasonably non-broken, mostly standards-compliant browser that won't break sites on a whim, or cause endless hours of headaches tracking down and fixing IE-only rendering errors.

Be responsible ... don't tell people to skip important Windows updates. That's what gave us Conficker for cryin' out loud!!! How to roll back to IE7 if 8 breaks your computer ... okay, I can see that. But disabling it? Most non-kosher.

I guess we'll just disagree then. I think it's totally reasonable to allow people to prevent automatic installation of software that may cause them problems. It's reasonable to allow them to disable repeated and ongoing notifications that will only train them to ignore subsequent notifications when in fact they should pay attention.

I'm sure that IE8 will someday become the stable and important update it could be, but what's irresponsible is forcing it on people when it clearly has so many issues.

- Leo

May 19, 2009 9:05 AM

People who know what they're doing skip important updates all the time. My company's desktops are all XP but they still insist on IE6 as the company standard. Now, don't ask me *why* they like IE6 so much ... I'm just saying, lately lots of MS stuff is being skipped, esp Vista, and now IE8. It's not that big a deal.

May 19, 2009 9:08 AM

"...undermines the legions of web developers out there wishing and hoping that people will FINALLY upgrade to IE8..."

Oops, I'm sure you meant to say Firefox.

May 19, 2009 9:41 AM

I have Vista with auto update turned on and running unattended overnight. Will it try to install IE8? Should I try and prevent it?

There is confusion on whether it will or not. To be honest, I'm surprised Automatic Updates is offering it at all, as it's not a Critical Update. My guess is that they will not automatically install it, but only offer. I could be wrong, or that could change.

As to whether anyone should block it, that's a decision I can't make for you. Today, I suggest skipping it, but many people have had good experiences as well.
- Leo

May 19, 2009 10:07 AM

I think people who like IE should give IE8 a try. It is a big improvement over previous IE versions, although I have found Firefox better for too many reasons to discuss here.
I wonder how much malware the company using IE6 has - if none, what other precautions are they taking? Group policy restrictions?
Having said this I disagree with henaway that Leo is being irresponsible. He is telling a user how to do's still the user's choice.

Rick Lewis
May 19, 2009 11:34 AM

I disagree 100% with the first "comment" on this page, who took Leo to task for not being "responsible".
I have 3 machines (XP, Vista 32 and Vista 64. When I installed IE8 on my Vista 32 machine, I immediately started getting browser crashes. Extremely frustrating. I ended up rolling back to IE7 and hid the update on the other 2 machines.
Leo is wise man. First Poster speak with forked tongue.

May 19, 2009 12:11 PM

How are we ever going to know when IE8 is acceptable. Microsoft must think it is acceptable now. Does that mean that they have gone on to work on IE9? (or whatever they call it) Is there a cadre of geeks out there that will give us the "go ahead" to start using IE8?

That's a good question. It's too bad that we can't really rely on the product being in better shape when released.

What I can tell you is that I'm certain there's a team of people at Microsoft who continue to work on IE8 - if for no other reason than to fix bugs and prepare updates. Unfortunately the lead time for all that work is often long, and we may not see the results for some time. (They're also probably focused first on Windows 7 issues.)

I think it makes sense to keep an eye on sites like mine or others who are a) experimenting some with IE8 themselves, b) paying attention to what's being said around the net, and c) have a stream of incoming questions about IE8 related issues to get a gauge on the current state of the product.

As others have suggested, switching to FireFox is also an option, as is staying with IE7

- Leo

May 19, 2009 3:18 PM

I have the same question that someone else asked: "I have Vista with auto update turned on and running unattended overnight. Will it try to install IE8? Should I try and prevent it?" Can someone please answer?

May 19, 2009 7:35 PM

I HAD IE8 on my computer thinking it would be faster. What a joke that was. My computer got even slower than what it was. I removed it from my computer. I realize that there are other issues because my computer is slow, but IE8 made it even slower.
I would much rather follow what Leo has to say because he has no interest (monetary) in IE8.

May 20, 2009 2:04 AM


You're kidding - right? "mostly standards-compliant"?

That precisely encapsulates why informed computer users get upset at the arrogance of Microsoft. They just never seem to want to play fair with the rules. They were miles off the mark with W3C standards once upon a time but with greater competition from browsers such as Firefox, have had to use better compliance. Closer in IE7 and closer again in IE8 if we're to listen to you. Well, why don't they just bite the bullet and make it FULLY compliant? Ummm, because it might compromise other MS products? I don't know - maybe you can fill us in.

For non-informed computer users, they just blindly accept all updates and then wonder why they have problems.

And one final question. How on earth is it that IE8 is a 13.3MB download against Firefox's 7.1MB or 7.35 for the standalone installer for Google's Chrome. I guess bloat equals size, not features

May 20, 2009 7:10 AM

If you use Windows one has to take new and old developements in a stride and be prepared to face problems- teething. Without the Windows we would still be lurking in some unknown world of Dos and Mos.Keep using IE8. It will get better.

May 20, 2009 12:00 PM

I have been using IE7 on my XP. After I installed IE8, I immediately ran into problems. I was going to use System Restore to back out of the install, but found that Restore was hosed (thanks to IE8). I used the REMOVE function in Control Panel to Uninstall IE8. Bingo! My System Restore was back to normal. I then put a "block" on the IE8 Update so I wouldn't be nagged to install it in the future... I'll wait until the bugs are fixed!!!

May 20, 2009 6:27 PM

I think that each browser has it's own problems. I like to use Chrome because it is faster than FireFox or IE8 on my beginner's system. It doesn't work on all web sites for whatever reason and I switch to one of the other browsers and tnen it has always worked fine. It's interesting to note that one of the sites that won't work with Chrome is Microsoft's cloud. I try it every once in a while when they ask me to try it, and it just acts like I'am not there. Well not all there anyway.

May 21, 2009 4:40 PM

I feel like this is the same conversation played over and over ad nauseum.

I have hade IE6 running on XP PRO SP2 for years.
(Firefox is the only browser I actually use)

I do not & will not allow Windows to automatically update or do anything without my permission for reasons that should by now be overwhelmingly obvious.

Microsoft makes crap, is lazy and greedy..period!

There is absolutely no reason to fix something that isn't broken.
Let Microsoft know that their stranglehold on the consumer is waning, and will not be tolerated.
Without MS, Leo would not have much work to do, but I give him credit for trying to help the masses overcome what MS has wrought.

The bottom line is to avoid MS "Improvements" if at all possible.
You'll be glad you did...

May 23, 2009 11:03 AM

Does anyone know what version of Internet Explorer Windows7 RC1 is running? What will the final RTM of Win7 be using? If IE7, does that mean Microsoft isn't prepared to mess up its newest operating system with incompatibility issues?

Windows 7 is running IE 8. It actually works a little better there, which makes me suspect that that's where the development effort is focused.
- Leo

May 27, 2009 3:41 PM

I decided to give Firefox a try on my XP machine. It seems faster than IE7 and I get fewer pop ups. I also don't get that annoying active X controls bleeping sound. I also haven't got that Firefox is not responding notice like I get with with IE7 I did try the beta bersion of IE8 and deleted it after 10 minutes. The only thing I find a little of an inconvenience is not being able to alphabetize the favorites in Firefox without a work around.

John N.
September 16, 2009 2:17 AM

It could easily be said on the other hand that- The Web Consortium chooses to ignore the often very useful and creative proprietary tags and attributes MS has so kindly adopted for IE. Let the rest catch up. More is better. 99.999% of pages always view in IE. Keep a firewall and av up, and go ahead on...

Diana S
September 27, 2009 4:51 PM

I installed IE8 about four months ago, just to see what it would do. I really liked it. It was faster than IE7, and when a tab crashed, the whole thing didn't go down - and the tab recovered almost instantly. The only thing I didn't like was that a browser add-in I used constantly, Browster, would not work with IE8, so I reluctantly went back to 7. When I found out that Browster was no longer being developed, and there never would be a version for 8, I bit the bullet and reinstalled 8. I've been more than happy with it ever since! I should mention that people I know (not implying Leo or any reader) who are having trouble with IE8 seem to be the people who rarely do maintenance on their computers, so it's possible that the accumulated garbage affects IE8's ability to run unimpeded. I clean up my computer daily using CCleaner before making backups of changed files. I'm running XP Pro (SP3) on a 6 year old high-end Dell with 2 hard drives, 2GB RAM (more on order), and an external backup drive with incremental backup capability. Once a month, I wipe the external drive and create a completely new backup. And, before someone says that's not enough backup :) , I also copy documents, photos, installation files, etc. to both CDs and flash drives daily. Overkill, maybe, but I've not lost a single file in 11 years and 3 computers!

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