Starting next month, Microsoft will begin automatically upgrading some Windows users to the latest version of Internet Explorer available for their PCs, the Redmond software juggernaut announced in a blog post today. These silent updates are deemed an "important step in helping to move the Web forward," though consider this a trial run.
The silent updates will kick off in January for customers in Australia and Brazil only, and branch out to other markets over time. Microsoft didn't say when it plans to flip the automatic update switch specifically for Windows users living in the U.S.
"For consumers, the safety benefits are one of the key reasons that the industry has been moving towards automatic updates as the norm ," Microsoft said. "This is increasingly important since the biggest online threat these days is socially engineered malware , which typically targets outdated software like Web browsers. The latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report , which is based on data from over 600 million systems in over 100 countries, is good reading to give you a sense of risks that stem from outdated software."
Microsoft isn't going to force automatic updates on anyone who doesn't want them. Organizations and individuals will have the option to opt-out and install an Automatic Update Blocker toolkit to prevent upgrades of IE. In addition, customers who declined previous installations of IE8 or IE9 through Windows Update will not be automatically updated, Microsoft said.