No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

Summary: Did Microsoft really rush Internet Explorer 9 into Windows Update in a desperate move to catch up with Firefox? Nope. The release schedule and rollout strategy are just like IE 8 and IE 7. Nothing’s been sped up or slowed down. I check the facts.

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Did Microsoft really rush Internet Explorer 9 into Windows Update in a desperate move to catch up with Firefox?

Sorry, conspiracy theorists, but the answer is an emphatic no.

My colleague Mary Jo Foley wrote “Forget June: Microsoft already pushing IE9,” noting an apparent acceleration from a previously reported June schedule. Elsewhere on ZDNet, Steven J. Vaughan Nichols piled on: “Why is Microsoft pushing IE 9 out now? Firefox.” In his view, Microsoft was forced to “push IE9 out early” because Firefox is kicking the stuffings out of IE 9 in adoption rates.

That would be an interesting argument if it were supported by any evidence. Too bad the theory crumbles into little pieces as you soon as do some research. With IE 9, Microsoft is following the exact same schedule as it did with Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 7, with an identical rollout strategy. Nothing’s been sped up, nothing’s been slowed down. This is how Microsoft releases a new browser.

Don’t take my word for it. Here are the actual timelines for all three major releases of Internet Explorer:

Internet Explorer 7

IE7 marked its Release to Web (RTW) milestone on October 18, 2006. It first appeared on Windows Update two weeks later, in the first week of November 2006. The announcement noted that this would be a slow rollout that would take place over a period of months.

We have now slowly started general AU distribution of IE7 in English, and this will continue over the next few months. For localized versions, we plan to follow this same approach of first releasing to the IE site followed by AU distribution several weeks later.

That shouldn’t have been a surprise: Those plans had been communicated in detail three months before the final release.

Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft made IE8 available for download by the public on March 19, 2009. It showed up on Windows Update two weeks later, in the first week of April 2009. Again, this was part of a plan that had been publicly announced three months in advance, and another public announcement was posted when the updates began rolling out:

Last week, we released IE8 via Automatic Update to users still running pre-release versions of IE8 (Beta 2 or Release Candidate 1). The goal was to make sure users who chose to install IE8 have the latest up-to-date version.

[A couple weeks after that], users still running IE6 or IE7 … will get a notification through Automatic Update about IE8. This rollout will start with a narrow audience and expand over time to the entire user base.

Are you seeing a pattern emerge?

Internet Explorer 9

The official RTW announcement was on March 14, 2011.  It was released to Automatic Updates exactly two weeks later, on March 28, per this post on the Windows Team Blog. As before, it’s a gradual rollout:

[W]e just turned on Windows Update for IE9 RTW yesterday – even then only for existing IE9 Beta and RC users. Windows Update for all our Windows customers will start sometime next month [in April].”

Just as they did with IE 8.

Internet Explorer 9 will not be broadly rolled out on Windows Update until the end of June.

That’s a period of roughly three months to ramp up from RTW to broad availability. The same as with every other major Internet Explorer launch in recent memory.

Which brings us full circle to the Firefox-versus-IE numbers. Microsoft’s core business users are cautious and conservative, and the company’s approach to releasing a new browser has always emphasized slow but steady adoption. Firefox, on the other hand, is an enthusiast’s product. There’s no IT department to plan a wide-scale deployment, no apps that target a specific version of the browser and have to be tested first.

Again, don’t take my word for it—look at the numbers. One year after IE8’s release, here’s how it compared to its predecessors in data from Net Market Share:

  • Internet Explorer 8: 26.61%
  • Earlier versions: 31.57%

Less than half of all Internet Explorer users had upgraded to the most recent version after a year. By contrast, here’s what the numbers for Firefox looked like one year after the release of Firefox 3.0:

  • Firefox 3: 20.53%
  • Earlier versions: 1.88%

Here are the numbers one year after the release of Firefox 3.5:

  • Firefox 3.5/3.6: 20.75%
  • Earlier versions: 2.99%

In both cases, more than 90% of all Firefox users upgraded within the first year. That’s a very sharp curve, quite unlike the incremental growth rate for Internet Explorer.

By the way, on the two-year anniversary of its launch, IE 8 had climbed another 7.8%, to 34.41%. Firefox 3+ had picked up less than two additional points of usage share, at 23.22%.

If you want to look at raw downloads as indicative of anything, be sure you place the numbers in historical context. Of course Firefox will inspire a flurry of downloads at launch. That’s the nature of the audience. Let’s check back in a year and see how things have changed, shall we?

Topics: Browser, Microsoft, Windows

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  • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

    So says the 'Microsoft Report'.

    Expecting anything else?
    james347
    • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

      @james347

      Ed oft times surprises us. You on the other hand ....
      noagenda
    • I fail to see any argument here...

      @james347

      Please enlighten us as to where Ed went wrong. His blogs are usually the most thought out and researched on ZDNet. By a long, long shot. He spent time writing this blog, did research, etc. What did SJVN do? Draw some wild conclusions based on some article he read somewhere.

      Who do you trust?
      LiquidLearner
      • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

        @LiquidLearner

        Obviously he trusts any article with an anti-MSFT bent, well researched or not. Why let facts get in the way of a good opportunity to trash Microsoft? Fanboy hate, FTW!
        Lamerz
      • agreed

        @LiquidLearner
        I bought MAP one year ago this month, following ED's post of subscription of it.
        FADS_z
      • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

        @LiquidLearner Personally I trust Ed more... I trust SJVN as far as I could throw him and the horse he rode in on. Ed does his research and very rarely is wrong while SJVN on the other hand has had to eat crow on several occasions.
        athynz
      • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

        @LiquidLearner - Gotta love the silence.
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • BRAVO Liquid Learner. Great Post.

        You are absolutely correct, Ed Bott's posts are by far the most well researched and intelligent blogs on zdnet.
        Yet, because he is a Windows user (one step below a leper to ABM zealots) he takes on the meanest spirited attack posts I have ever seen. Over the years he's had his heritage brought into question (to put it mildly).
        Yet he is the only blogger that backs up what he posts with well researched data.
        Yes SJVN made a career from MS bashing.
        It's typical subjective zealotry and this site has done nothing to address it except hire more ABM bloggers to feed their open source/Apple trolls who are the majority here, evidenced by every poll every taken on this site.
        I'm still waiting, after a decade, for Windows to give me problems and stop being the best server/client environment I've ever used (which includes Unix, Novell and other proprietary systems like polyforth and mumps for large end to end HIS systems).
        xuniL_z
    • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

      @james347 ... While ignoring the facts presented in the article (which are well linked and documented), you also seem to ignore the fact that even with its release to Windows Update the download is DESELECTED by default (forcing you through a 3-click process to select it). Even when selected, it still prompts you twice before actually installing.

      I'm pretty sure it's a safe bet it's not getting installed unless people want it installed.
      GoodThings2Life
    • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

      @james347

      Yep I expect testing, research and facts and I get it. If you want fantasy then go read SJVN.
      tonymcs@...
      • Oh well, at least they still have Roswell

        @tonymcs@...
        :)
        John Zern
      • You have it backwards.....

        @tonymcs@...
        Fantasy, read Ed Bott, Truth SJVN.
        You MS shills can never stop trolling anything that isn't Microsoft. Way to ruin an otherworld good tech site.
        linux for me
      • Correction: You have it backwards

        @linux for me

        You maniacs give Linux a bad name.

        Cognitive dissonance much? You [s]wouldn't[/s] couldn't understand anyway.

        [i]~~~~~~~~~~
        A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
        ~ Winston Churchill[/i]
        WinTard
      • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

        @WinTard
        "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
        ~ Winston Churchill"

        Thank you for proving my point, fanatic one......
        linux for me
      • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

        @linux for me
        Wrong blog...go play around the back alley there dude with Linux blogs.
        ItsTheBottomLine
    • Yeah, they haven't learned to fool us the way Apple has

      @james347
      Are you surprised.
      John Zern
      • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

        @John Zern

        Apple may fool many people but they do not fool me. James and his weak minded companions are fooled. Some use Apple for their strengths and personal preference and then there are people like James that essentially act as if they are brainwashed by some steve jobs mind controlling device.
        bobiroc
      • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

        @John Zern

        grow up. pick you nose instead
        desilvav
      • desilvav....what a comeback.

        Thanks for showing "you" wit and intelligence.
        xuniL_z
    • RE: No, Microsoft didn't rush IE 9 into Windows Update

      @james347 Ed's blogs are researched and very rarely wrong - and he owns up to the few mistakes he makes. SJVN on the other hand had been wrong more often than not and very rarely owns up to his mistakes. I'd expect SJVN to be held to the same standards as Ed.

      Besides the proof of what Ed says is right there in his article. Before the rush to crucify him why don't you take the time to actually read what he wrote rather than just look at the title and respond solely to that?
      athynz