Add-on Guidelines and Requirements in Action – Upgrade Advisor

We’ve blogged in the past about guidelines and requirements that we’ve published to help add-on developers create quality add-ons.  We wrote these guidelines based on years of providing support to users and developers in response to questions from the developer community.

We’ve shared several great examples of these guidelines and requirements in action in the past few months. As part of IE’s cumulative security updates, we’ve released an update to the Internet Explorer Upgrade Advisor list that helps users update to new versions of add-ons that follow the guidelines and requirements. In this post, we highlight the latest add-ons that have made changes based on the guidelines and requirements, and we describe the Upgrade Advisor user experience in detail.

It’s been encouraging to see more add-ons recently release new versions with improvements in functionality based on these guidelines and requirements. As more developers follow them, our users will have a better experience. Here are some of the add-ons that have made changes to their functionality:

Add-on Name New Version
AOL Toolbar
Ask Toolbar
BuySafe Shopping Advisor Toolbar
Comcast Toolbar
Quero Toolbar
XFinity Toolbar

It’s important to update users to the new versions of these add-ons so they can benefit from improved stability and compatibility. Today we released an updated Upgrade Advisor list with IE’s Cumulative Security Updates to help users do just that. Users who have specific versions of the above add-ons may see the Upgrade Advisor dialog box when they launch Internet Explorer 8:

IE Upgrade Advisor Dialog

The dialog box presents the user with three options to choose from:

Option 1: Check online for an update
When the user selects this option or closes the dialog without making a choice, the dialog box is dismissed and a web page is displayed in a new window that runs in No Add-ons Mode. The user can follow the steps in this web page to install the new version of the add-on. If a link to the new version of the add-on is not provided by the vendor, or the new version does not follow the guidelines and requirements, the web page will inform the user that no update is available yet.

Option 2: Always open Internet Explorer without this add-on
When the user selects this option, Internet Explorer disables the add-on, the dialog box is dismissed, and Internet Explorer continues to launch.

Option 3: Keep using this add-on anyway
When the user selects this option, the dialog box is dismissed and Internet Explorer continues to launch with the add-on enabled until the next refresh of the Upgrade Advisor list which occurs approximately every 8 weeks.

Many thanks to the teams that have made changes to follow the guidelines and requirements. We will continue to work with add-on vendors to help them release new versions of add-ons that have better stability, compatibility and performance.

Herman Ng
Program Manager

Comments (21)

  1. 7flavor says:

    Please support 60% of your Windows customers and 74% of your enterprise customers by offering IE9 for Windows XP minus hardware acceleration. Vista Ultimate and Vista Home will end of life in 2012 (no extended support) leaving only Windows 7 and Vista Business as supported OSes under which IE9 can be used. Besides Direct2D, DirectWrite and color management, XP can support all other IE9 features including XPS print path. Video can use DirectShow. In 2012, otherwise only Windows 7 and Vista Business/Enterprise users will be able to use IE9.

  2. 7flavor says:

    In above comment, iI meant "except  Direct2D, DirectWrite and color management".

  3. hAl says:

    I chucked all but one addons and replaced Ie7pro with Simple adblock as Simple adblock seems to have less impact on browser performance than Ie7pro does.

    The addon-manager could do with uninstall and update links that you can click on to get to an uninstall/update possibility for the specific addon.

  4. ZippyV says:

    @7flavor: if people don't bother upgrading Windows XP they won't bother upgrading to IE9. By the time IE9 comes out, Vista and Win 7 will have a bigger marketshare over XP.

  5. Hunnes says:

    @ZippyV: You are probably right, still I would like to know the stats on how many IE8 installations are on which platforms.

    @7flavor: About the same percentage of users were using still Windows 95 and older when IE6 was released for Windows 98 and newer only.

  6. Hunnes says:

    @ZippyV: You are probably right, still I would like to know the stats on how many IE8 installations are on which platforms.

    @7flavor: About the same percentage of users were using still Windows 95 and older when IE6 was released for Windows 98 and newer only.

  7. Nat says:

    6 toolbars eh? – Has the powerful extension model used in Firefox/Chrome not taught us anything? – that except for very useful toolbars – no one wants that much screen space destroyed and that an icon or 2 on the existing toolbars/status bar is much more efficient and desired!

    oh well.

    As for the upgrade dialog it is good to see IE being pro-active about the upgrade process but I find it a bit misleading.  It isn't that the addon "isn't compatible" with IE8 but rather that there is an update available (required vs. optional).

    Case in point – users will often launch their browser as the result of clicking a link in their email or IM client.  The opens the browser, passing in a URL.  This dialog will now open essentially "forcing" the wise user to upgrade… but they don't just get the upgrade install "inline" (e.g. like Firefox does) – they are forced to divert to a new tab to re-download/install the addon they already have.  Can we say "Usability FAIL!"?

    Back to the dialog, the whole "is not compatible" bit doesn't fly because the last of the 3 options is "just keep using it anyway" which would not be possible if it truly were incompatible!

    Here's a crazy idea… how about stating the facts to the user instead so they can make an informed decision!


    "There is an important update for the Contoso Add-on you have installed, it is recommended that you install the upgrade:"

    – Install this Add-on update

    – Disable this Add-on

    – Skip the update at this time


    Putting the users in control will make them happier users, and they are smart enough to do the right thing.

  8. Hah says:

    >they are smart enough to do the right thing.

    You're clearly new here.  If users were smart enough to do the right thing, they wouldn't be installing junk add-ons to begin with, and they'd remove them themselves if they found themselves with one.

    The user *is* in control, because they can choose to continue to use an add-on which will crash their browser, break their user-experience, or slow their performance. Trying to explain all of the individual ways in which a given add-on might be incompatible with IE so that a user understands is a pointless task.

    The real point of this dialog (and the block list in general) is to lay down the law and make it clear to add-on developers that if they continue to ship add-ons that violate the rules, they'll get blocked.

  9. Mario says:

    @Nat: the fact that you can make something run doesn't mean that it's compatible. Either IE, or the add-on, or possibly both could work suboptimally, and the add-on may not even work as intended or even crash in some condition. Indicating in the dialog the incompatibility (and therefore the potential problems) is the right thing to do IMHO.

  10. Hef says:

    Although I think this isn't the right place for this discussion, I agree with 7flavor. Developing websites is a hard job, because you have to write code for all browsers – and then start again to write code for Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8.

    It would be wonderful if IE9 accepts standard based websites, but I have not much hope. Actually the promises sounds good – but other browsers don't stop developing either and when the IE9 Final arrives there will be new standards and half-standardized methods (widely supported).

    To guarantee that the web page even runs with IE you have to test it. But Linux or Mac users don't want to buy a newer Windows to do this. So even if full-browsing is not available with IE9 and Windows XP, there should be a way to test IE9 rendering.

  11. hAl says:

    Could you please make for all add-ons (that you know) with more than 200 ms load time also show with a similar dialog (and yes, that includes the ridiculously slow Live Toolbar of your colleagues)


    In that dialog in stead of:

    The <arbitrary addon> with version <9.9> build by <some addonbuider> is not compatible with Internet Explorer 9

    You could say:

    The <arbitrary addon> with version <9.9> build by <some addonbuilder> has been found to load very slow with Internet Explorer 9 new tab creation.

    and then give the same options as in article above described dialog.

  12. Anonymous says:


    For this purpose, Microsoft provides users with virtual machine image to test various configurations of windows and internet explorer…/details.aspx

  13. Softomate says:

    These guidelines can be a problem for many add-on developers. We've spent a lot of time solving all the issues rising with this and ready to help any developer facing the same problems with these guidelines…/ie_plugins

  14. Paul says:

    Is there any chance IE9 will have an autohide feature for the status bar (like Chrome)? It is really that useful: it shows you links and loading status but gets out of the way when loading's done.

  15. Hef says:

    @Anonymus: Thank you!

  16. johnnyq3 says:

    I would love to see you guys try to get a hold of the Brothers Chap to help them "make" a SBemail in full HTML 5 standards.

  17. 7flavor says:


    That's not really true at all. I would really like to see a breakup of how many IE7/IE8 users are on XP and how many on Vista/7/. IE9 is coming out next year and by near year, at the current rate, I don't see how Win7 marketshare will be higher than XP (14% vs 61%) The reality is Microsoft is interested in pushing Windows 7 more than truly deliver on the "same markup everywhere" promise. This isn't really progress. IE9 is like a value-added service for Windows 7 customers. What company other than Microsoft ignores such a large chunk of its customers for sake of more sales and $$$?

  18. Facts says:

    @7flavor, your numbers are a lie. Windows 7 is the fastest selling OS in history, and Vista+Win7 already have 70% of the share of XP (XP ~50% overall OS share, Vista+Win7 ~35% overall OS share).

    NO software company provides infinite updates to their users. I think it's hilarious that half of the ppl on this blog complain that IE6 users still are getting servicing updates and half (including some overlap) complain that XP users are not getting IE9.

  19. 7flavor says:

    @Facts, check out the Net Applications website which Microsoft itself showcases on its Windows Team blog. But you can keep ignoring the truth. Windows 7 is the most popular already. No one knows XP.

  20. boen_robot says:

    The current OS stats from Net Applications:

    They suggest that Internet users having Vista or 7 are about 28.80% while XP users are 61.87%. Linear trends may suggest anything, but things are rarely linear, so I would avoid speculating. New computers will have Windows 7, but whether people buy new computers, upgrade the existing ones or install Windows 7 on already capable computers is not so easily predictable.

  21. Sylvain Giroux says:

    Hi Herman,

    It was a pleasure working with Microsoft to improve stability and compatibility on 3 of those add-ons!