Changes to IE8’s First Run

This blog post details a change we’re making to IE8’s first run experience, previously described in other posts here and here.  The goal of the IE setup experience is to put IE users in control of their settings and respect existing defaults.  IE will never install, or become the default browser without your explicit consent.  However, we heard a lot of feedback from a lot of different people and groups and decided to make the user choice of the default browser even more explicit. This change is part of our ongoing commitment to user choice and control.

Specifically, users who install IE8 and have another browser set as the default will now see this panel as part of their first run experience:

IE settings wizard default browser question

Users who already have IE set as their default browser won’t see this screen. This panel was actually part of the “Choose custom settings” option, described in this post, “Screen 8.” As part of this change, the “Use express settings” option no longer includes setting IE as the default browser.

We decided to use dynamic updates in order to deliver this change to the market as quickly as possible, rather than re-release IE8 in over 60 languages.  We expect to roll this out in mid-August.  Over 90% of users who run IE8 setup opt-in to dynamic updates in this panel in setup:

IE install screen - install updates

(This will also install the latest security updates as part of setup.)

This change applies not only to IE8 installations on Vista and XP, but also when these users with a non-IE default browser install Windows 7. 

We will make this change available in the next cumulative security update for Internet Explorer, so administrators that regularly deploy security updates throughout their organization can easily incorporate this new behavior.  Administrators can find information about how to manage software and security updates in the Update Management TechCenter on Technet.  Administrators can customize the default browser settings using Set Program Access Defaults

The IE team

Comments (39)

  1. Stephen Preston says:

    I think this is a great change to the first run wizard. IE really has come along way in since IE6. Thanks Microsoft!

  2. penubag says:

    I’ll be honest, I hate Internet Explorer and am a Firefox fan. But seeing this makes me really sympathetic. Don’t work yourselves out, you guys are almost there! I know you’ll make IE the best it can be!

    At least you aren’t as terrible as Apple! If you download iTunes or do an Apple Software Update, they download Safari onto your PC! That’s malware in my opinion!

  3. I had to implement this…

    <!–[if lte IE 8]><meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" /><![endif]–>

    …since IE doesn’t obey this…

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

    Is bug submission closed on Connect at the moment?

  4. FremyCompany says:

    @John : No, you can publish new bugs (at least if you’ve the authorisation).

    This bug, however, is not a bug. It’s simply the fact that IE doesn’t support XHTML, only HTML. In HTML, there’s no XML declaration, as HTML is not XML. XHTML is only a namespace/doctype for XML, so you can use the <?xml?> declaration.

    Maybe IE9 will support XHTML, why not ?

  5. Dwight Stegall says:

    Surely you jest? That app has more bugs in it that all of your other software. Me and everyone i know had to uninstall IE8 Update. It was causing way too many problems with Vista.

  6. Al says:

    Ah cool! I like the direction of this. @Dwight… IE8 worked great on Vista for me.

    IE8 in my opinion is the first real Microsoft browser and I wish it was the ‘only’ one. Now how do we go about getting IE6 & IE7 discontinued in a Windows update? What are the arguments against doing this?

  7. Greg says:

    Please allow ALL of the updates to be downloaded first before installing them.  Many of us are behind a corp firewall and cannot use automatic update.  Staying current with the latest patches is a time consuming process.  Our IT guys don’t have the time to review all of the updates for non-server applications which leaves desktop users to their own in getting the updates (at the cost of 2+ hours a month).

  8. Will Peavy says:

    @John and Fremy – you didn’t hear the news? XHTML is dead.

    "2009-07-02: Today the Director announces that when the XHTML 2 Working Group charter expires as scheduled at the end of 2009, the charter will not be renewed. By doing so, and by increasing resources in the HTML Working Group, W3C hopes to accelerate the progress of HTML 5 and clarify W3C’s position regarding the future of HTML. A FAQ answers questions about the future of deliverables of the XHTML 2 Working Group, and the status of various discussions related to HTML. Learn more about the HTML Activity." –

  9. Olivier says:

    @penubag : talking about Apple… or more precisely : Adobe. Some times ago I installed Flash CS3 on my computer and I ended up with a trojan.

    And what was it ? It installed Apple Bonjour service on my computer without telling anything.

    The EU should really kick Adobe and Apple instead of kicking Microsoft or Intel just to steal their money.

  10. Andrew says:

    @Will Peavy

    XHTML 2 is dead.

    XHTML 5 is alive and well.

  11. Gareth says:

    But why do I even have any ‘First Run’ settings when upgrading from IE 7 to IE 8 at all? I just want to keep what I’ve already set up.

  12. @Gareth: There are new features in IE8 (SmartScreen, Accelerators, etc) which have no corresponding settings to migrate from IE7. We also want to give you an opportunity to make decisions related to privacy, etc.

  13. Marah Marie says:

    @Will: Oh, that sucks. I had XHTML down cold. I always thought there’d be a choice so I never taught myself HTML 5. The next language I waqnted to learn was Javascript – now I’ll either have to learn it and HTML 5 simultaneously or just put off learning Javascript, since "getting" HTML 5 will be more important in the long run.

    …And (back on-topic) Opera is *still* crying that changes Microsoft made to the IE8 install are "not good enough". I think the changes are good enough; if you already have IE set as default, I *would* like to see the ability to change that offered on upgrade to IE8, but still this is better…*rolls eyes*

  14. Will Peavy says:

    @Marah – If you take a valid XHTML 1 document, remove self-closing syntax, then change the doctype – you should have valid HTML 4. It will be years before HTML 5 is well supported in the browsers that most people use, and the spec isn’t even finished yet.

    @Andrew – you realistically think anyone would serve a mime type of application/xhtml+xml on a large production site or application? Even if IE magically started supporting application/xhtml+xml tomorrow, I think almost everyone would keep serving text/html (even if when they use an XHTML docytpe).

  15. Matt says:

    Please acknowledge then fix the performance problems with IE8. I’ve had to uninstall it on every machine I’ve used it on, and had to stop using Win 7 RC because of the IE8 problems.

    It also complicates the advice I give to basic computer users – I can no longer recommend they install every MS update they are offered.

    The most annoying problem is that about every second tab fails to load (it sticks on a blank wait screen with the blue loading spinner going round and round and round and round and…) No Addons mode does not fix the problem. The regsvr32 work around sometimes appears to work in the short term, but not long term. The problem is tab specific – if a tab exhibits the problem it will always exhibit the problem, however if a tab is problem free then it will continue to work reliably.

    I’ve seen the problem on a fresh install of Win 7 without any other software – so can’t fathom how the problem has passed the notice of everyone on the IE team.

    I’ve been a steadfast IE supporter since IE3, but this problem needs to be fixed before I recommend IE8 over IE6, IE7 or competing browsers.

  16. boen_robot says:


    A fresh install of Windows 7, no add-ons mode, and the problem still occurs? How about a fresh Vista install and no add-ons mode? Does it still occur? What’s the hardware?

    I’ve installed IE8 on many XP and Vista setups, on various machines (even old ones… think 4-5 years old; DDR 400 and PATA HDDs, that kind’a thing), and I’ve never had problems, especially not of this kind. Heck,

    once I remove unused add-ons (e.g. "Research", "Discuss", etc.), IE8 becomes faster than IE7 on older machines.

    If you didn’t say "fresh install with no other software", I was going to assume you’re doing some registry manipulation. IE (any version) is very vulnerable registry wise. An incorrect or missing registry entry could create various problems around the whole OS, and IE is just the place where all under-the-hood problems manifest. Everytime I’ve seen a problematic IE setup, I also see a program like CCleaner. At that point, I just ask the PC owner "Do you have anything valuable? We must reinstall Windows. By the way, forget about CCleaner, and any program that has a ‘registry cleaner’.". That is, I don’t even bother trying to fix the registry – once damaged, it’s usually beyond repair.

  17. EW says:

    > The EU should really kick Adobe and Apple instead of kicking Microsoft or Intel just to steal their money.

    What a crock. Intel and Microsoft BROKE THE LAW and were fined for breaking the law, and frankly they got off lightly. I support the European Commission 100%. If you hadn’t had corruption in Washington you’d have had firmer anti-trust actions against already convicted monopolists.

    Apple and Adobe are not convicted monopolists.

    As for IE8: good change.

  18. Webkit says:

    IE and Silverlight just became even more irrelevant. This is the death of IE and Silverlight.

  19. Ian says:

    Webkit: I’m happy that you spelled a little better this time, but replaying the same old tripe gets old. Why not start a blog yourself that we can all more easily avoid, rather than spamming this one?

    EW: Funny, most of your compatriots in the EU think the EU lawsuit against IE was a mistake. Opera can’t compete in the market so they whine to the courts. Everyone loses.

  20. Ian says:

    Matt: The "performance" issues you speak of were covered in the prior blog post, which would be a more suitable place to comment.

    Regardless, if regsvr32 ever makes a difference, it’s a clear indication of registry corruption. It’s likely that you have a junk anti-virus or anti-malware program which is trying to hook into IE using undocumented methods and that is the source of your slowness.

    Beyond registry corruption, and buggy addons, the other major performance problem for some environments is autoproxy detection. Turn it off using Internet Options >> Connections >> LanSettings and see if that helps.

  21. Nai says:

    Ian, be quiet. Interesting developments like Snow Stack is always welcomed in the open web standards world.

  22. Ian says:

    Nai: A music video does not a standard make.

    Show me which standard covers the work they did? (Hint: It’s not a standard. It’s part of a draft proposal, and until it’s ratified, it’s yet-another-proprietary-vendor-feature).

    Think. Then write.

  23. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    Folks, please keep it civil. The IEBlog comment policy can be found here:  Thanks.

  24. mokawi says:

    Does it mean we’ll have to do the same with other OSes? And other pre-installed software?

    Not a huge MS fan, but they were right to hold their ground, and this isn’t a fantastic decision for user experience, in my opinion. A OS should be ready to use when installed.

  25. Brian says:

    The other mainstream browsers don’t ask the user to be the default browser after updates. Do they?

    So why does Microsoft ask the users? Because they know that over 90% users can’t tell the difference and thus about 50% of them will click ‘yes’.

    It’s one of (Microsoft’s) different tactics to increase your market share every time it slips deeper than usual. This time the market share slipped so deep that net applications refused to publish the results, they’re still ‘investigating’, and Microsoft being one of their sponsors is also helping them ‘investigate’.

  26. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Brian: When I checked in May, *every* current-version non-IE Windows browser installer (Chrome, Opera, Safari, Firefox) attempts to set itself as the default web browser during installation, usually using a checked-by-default checkbox. I’d be surprised if any of them have changed recently.

  27. Mark says:

    @some1: Thank you for that article, showing the pathetic lack of quality required to write for CNET. The author in question provides zero valid substantiation for his suggestion that "Windows Search" somehow tried to change his search provider to some other search engine, and completely overlooks the fact that it’s probably Google itself that tried to change it (see gupdate in the event log 1 second earlier).

    IE8 has a search provider protection feature that prevents changing the search provider.

    Pathetic wannabe "journalism" designed solely to collect pageviews.

  28. Seth says:

    @@mark: shady indeed. people believe this stuff??

  29. MessengerIsEvil says:

    @EricLaw [MSFT]:

    At "install" time not "upgrade". Please don’t invent your own questions when answering.

    For most browsers there are two knobs involved:

    1. Set as default browser

    2. Check and ask on startup

    If both are unchecked I expect silence, Also on upgrade. If [2] is checked yes "ask" is what I expect.

    But you bet MS will do the unexpected every time.


  30. Aaron says:

    MessengerIsblahblahblah, if you’re going to accuse people of things, it’s a good idea to have your facts straight. Otherwise, your errors and misrepresentations will be pointed out to you.

    When you upgrade to FF3.5, it’s treated as an "install" and it goes through the install wizard which prompts to make FF the default browser. This is true of Opera 10, Safari 4, and so on. Do your homework.

  31. Ian says:

    @Aaron: Those browser installers don’t prompt to become the default; they show a checked-by-default box.

  32. Jacob Karma says:

    "80% of users opt-in to updates"

    This is not true, they are not opting-in, the default setting is to accept updates. If the checkbox was unselected by default, probably 50% less users would update.

  33. Theo says:

    Jacob: Try to have a point when you post. It’s childish to try to "correct" others when you have nothing worthwhile to say.

    The author’s point is that 90% (not your 80%) of users will see this change.

  34. Xavier says:

    Good start! However, it is not enough! The next thing I hope Microsoft will do is to change are all the MSN/Live/Bing options to change the search engine/home page from opt-out to opt-in. Each time live messenger/live whatever or internet explorer is updated, I receive a lot of phone calls from users asking me why their home page is now MSN and want to get back the old one.

  35. Xavier: IE8’s Search Engine protection feature prevents any changes in the default search engine that are initiated by *any* operation other than the user manually changing the search engine using IE’s UI.

  36. Xavier says:

    EricLaw, Thanks for your reply.

    However, I think it’s will be fairer with the users to change the opt-out to opt-in. It’s my opinion, but we tell users (read : users they use Internet Explorer, but they don’t remember the name of the software, they just click on the "little blue E on the desktop") to don’t be shy to do the updates, generally the default’s options are correct.

    With opt-out options, they simply click on "Next", and later they call me to say "they have all broken" and after you see the users don’t do the updates because they don’t want to break the computer (and call you back again to tell you to fix their computer… when is only the home page/search engine are changed).

    Also, the MSN/Live/Bing is not only set for the search engine, but for also the home page, and for any browser installed on the computer.

    This is not too complicated to do, and it’s is fairer for users. Also, you don’t have the feeling of Microsoft is trying anyway to force users to use his portals. This is why I suggest to change it to opt-in, with that, you will continue to promote the Microsoft portals/services, but you will let really to use it to do the change, and not because you have clicked on "Next" too fast!

    (Sorry for my bad English ^^)

  37. @Xavier: I’m not saying I disagree, I’m merely pointing out that the IE team builds IE, and does not work on the other products you mention. IE8 prevents any application from changing the search provider without consent.

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