Don’t Base Your Compatibility Matrix On A Press Release

You see the parades outside your window right now? That’s the whole Web development world spontaneously reacting to the news that Microsoft is going to automatically background update Internet Explorer:

Microsoft today said it will silently upgrade Internet Explorer (IE) starting next month, arguing that taking the responsibility out of the hands of users will keep the Web safer.

That will take it out of the hands of the consumer and end user. But the enterprise users? Not so much:

Microsoft’s scheme differs from either Mozilla’s or Google’s, however, in that the company will let enterprises retain control of upgrades.

This means that all those corporate networks who are still running 10-year-old applications custom-crafted to work with IE 6 will still keep their desktops running IE 6, and all their employees who browse from work will still use IE 6 to visit your sites.

Further:

Nor will it force updates on consumers who have already declined earlier offers to abandon an older IE.

So people who have explicitly opted out of upgrading that one time several years ago when they didn’t read what they were clicking, they won’t get the upgrade, either.

And Roberta, out there surfing the Internet on a machine that does not support the new gimcracks and gee-gaws like IE 9? She’ll still be tooling along on IE 6.

So, ultimately, what does it mean? Well, it means Microsoft got into the news again. Good job, PR staff!

It also means you need to explore whether you need to install one of the toolkits to block the automated updates on your test machines to ensure you continue to have backward compatibility to test the sites until such time as those IE usage numbers really start to fall off. (You can find them here: 7, 8, 9.)

Don’t base your test strategies and your compatibility matrices on press releases or Microsoft blog posts.

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