No XP support ensures slow IE9 rollout, bloggers say

With some IT shops still mandating the use of Internet Explorer 6 at their enterprises, Microsoft Corp.’s announcement that IE9 will only be compatible with Windows 7 and Vista could continue the browser’s slow upgrade cycle, according to some in the blogosphere.

Additionally, new reports suggest that Windows 7 RTM users, which can currently install the IE9 Beta, will be forced to upgrade to SP1 once the full version is available.

ConceivablyTech blogger Daniel Bailey said Microsoft is shooting itself in the foot with its decision to shut out XP. He called it the “biggest blunder since the brown Zune.”

“It may not really matter how good IE9 really is, if you can’t install it,” he wrote. “If you are among the huge number of Windows XP users, which still account for about 60 per cent of all PCs running worldwide, you can’t install IE9. Period.”

“If you run Vista, you have to have SP2 installed as well as a few other ‘prerequisites’ and the software may not install even if you have all bug fixes and upgrades for Vista installed,” Bailey said.

The news that Windows 7 SP1 might actually be required will likely prevent IE9 from becoming a dominant browser for years to come, he added

PC Mag writer Lance Ulanoff took a lighter tone with his argument, actually wishing Windows XP would go the way of the dodo and that his company would move away from the decade-old operating system. But, he added, a “shocking” 74 per cent of businesses are still running XP, which means that Microsoft faces an uphill battle.

“Yes, it may make perfect sense on many levels to finally upgrade to Windows 7, but businesses, and even consumers, use different metrics to measure the ‘costs’ of upgrading their PCs,” he wrote.

“Businesses focus on standardized system and disk images,” Ulanoff added. “If one system is running Windows 7, they all have to run it. Fifty employees means 50 licences. Microsoft offers volume licence plans, but it benefits, mostly, from the biggest businesses. Then there’s the cost of training or relearning the new OS. If it doesn’t cost the company that much in real dollars, the cost in lost productivity is almost impossible to measure.”

ReadWriteWeb blogger Mike Melanson said this isn’t the first time a browser has been released to exclude an old operating system. “When Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7 in 2006, Windows 2000 was left out of the equation,” he wrote.

“As Microsoft showed during a reviewer’s workshop, much of Internet Explorer 9 has been rebuilt from the ground up. If this means that we don’t have to deal with the clunky IE of the past from now on, so be it,” Melanson added.

“Our only lament is that a better, standards-based version of IE will never happen on XP, and for now, XP isn’t going anywhere fast.”

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