IE 7 to be released via Windows Update

CNET reports via Slashdot that IE 7 will be pushed to installations of Windows not yet branded as pirated (yes, the Genuine check will have to be run…AGAIN) via Windows Update later this year. The installation will be optional, though, with an upgrade screen which will permit users to choose to install it now, defer it for later, or say “no thanks.”

I’ve got mixed emotions about this one. Clearly I think IE 7 is a vast improvement over IE 6 (I run Beta 3 at work) because it does fix a few things that have bothered me in IE 6 for the last five years (PNG-alpha support, etc.), and it wouldn’t bother me one iota if my IE 6 visitors started transitioning to IE 7 rapidly.

That being said, IE 7 is a major, major upgrade. CSS hacks supported in previous versions of IE won’t be supported anymore, which will break a LOT of Web sites. My advice to Web developers? Get Beta 3 now, put it on a machine (you should still keep a box around with IE 6 for the present) and start a round of rigorous testing and fixing to make sure that when the final upgrade hits, all the sites you may operate will make the transition smoothly. I can imagine a majority of current IE 6 users will make the migration when prompted, and I for one hope they do, because I’ve been absolutely itching to use 24-bit transparent PNGs on my sites since I found out what they were, and haven’t been able to because the IE workaround is such a pain. ;)