Microsoft Now Says IE9 Won't Require Windows 7 SP1

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 FAQ originally stated that organizations looking to upgrade to IE9 would have to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 first, and this gave the impression that customers using the Windows 7 release to manufacturing (RTM) would be out of luck.

Microsoft has now edited the FAQ to show what Windows 7 RTM users will have to do to install IE9.

"When you install Internet Explorer 9 on a system that has Windows 7 RTM installed, additional operating system components are included as part of the installation of Internet Explorer 9," the IE9 FAQ now reads. The extras consist of four previously released Windows 7 updates, and Microsoft says these will be included in Windows 7 SP1.

Microsoft has given ambiguous guidance for when to expect the launch of IE9 and Windows 7 SP1, but they're expected to arrive around the same time, possibly at Microsoft's MIX 2011 event next March.

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Microsoft rolled out the IE9 beta on Sept. 15 and has been preening over the positive reviews the browser has received. IE9 doesn't run on Windows XP, and Microsoft is hoping that it'll provide enough of an allure for those stubborn folks that are still clinging desperately to the nearly decade-old OS.

Microsoft is encouraging businesses to kick the tires on the IE9 beta, but it's also urging companies that are in the process of upgrading to Windows 7 to try IE8 first. The differences between IE8 and IE9 are so minor that companies that familiarize themselves with IE can jump right into IE9 with a minimum of fuss, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft doesn't give customers the option of simultaneously running two different versions of IE on the same instance of Windows: As the FAQ states, customers can only do this through virtualization or terminal services. But with IE9, Microsoft is offering a Platform Preview, a version with limited functionality that's intended to demonstrate what the full version will offer to give developers a sense of what's possible.

Although IE9 is getting positive developer feedback, Microsoft's share of the Web browser market has been losing share to rivals recently. IE9 includes a ton of new features, including hardware acceleration, but competitors like Mozilla and Google aren’t far behind.