IE8 balks at Windows Update

Testers need to click on 'Emulate IE7' button to grab patches

Internet Explorer 8, the just-previewed browser from Microsoft, blocks access to the company's Windows Update service, company representatives have confirmed.

Users who try to reach Windows Update with Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) Beta 1 are instead greeted with a message stating, "To use this site, you must be running Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 or later."

IE8 Beta 1 was released Wednesday after an unveiling at MIX08, the Web developer conference Microsoft hosted last week in Las Vegas. The preliminary version runs on Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003 and Server 2008.

Users were understandably confused when IE8 refused to call up Windows Update. "After updating my IE7 to IE8 today, I tried to update my Windows Vista by visiting the Windows Update Web site, but then I was redirected to an error page," said a user identified as zkyboy on a Microsoft support newsgroups. "Why? IS IE8 not the latest version browser?"

To reach Windows Update, IE8 Beta 1 users must click on the "Emulate IE7" button, which switches the new browser into IE7 mode. That requires a restart of IE8, however.

"Windows Update is updating their site to support IE8," said a Microsoft employee named Eric Law in a comment to an IE development team blog post last Thursday. "For now, click the Emulate IE7 Button, restart all IE windows, and visit [Windows Update]. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Computerworld confirmed that the IE7 emulation mode within IE8 allowed access to Windows Update.

Elsewhere, users have reported problems accessing or rendering other sites with IE8 Beta 1, including Facebook, Google Inc.'s Gmail and Microsoft's own Windows Live Mail.

Of course, quirks and bugs are common in beta software, a fact acknowledged by some who left comments on the IE development blog. "Reading a lot of those crash 'victims' above, I hate to say it, but this is a Beta," said a user labeled as IT_guy. "I would not be surprised to learn that they have a gazillion array of add-ons, toolbars and utilities blighting the browser. Those vendors are going to have to shape up and re-tool."

IE8 Beta 1 can be downloaded from Microsoft's site.

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