Microsoft repeats IE8 lock-in warning for XP users with SP3

XP SP3 users may not be able to roll back to older browser, says company

Microsoft has again warned users of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) that they may not be able to uninstall either the service pack or Internet Explorer 8 (IE8).

The warning, made by Jane Maliouta, a Microsoft program manager as the company delivered Release Candiate 1 (RC1) on Monday, was a repeat of a caution she gave last August when Microsoft launched the browser's second beta.

In a post to the IE blog, Maliouta recommended that users who had installed IE8 Beta 1 or Beta 2 before upgrading Windows XP to SP3, manually uninstall the older IE8 previews. Users who don't take her advice will be stuck with both IE8 RC1 and Windows XP SP3.

"Windows XP SP3 and IE8 RC1 will become permanent," Maliouta said. "You will still be able to upgrade to later IE8 builds as they become available, but you won't be able to uninstall them." As in August, when Windows XP SP3 users ran into the same situation as they upgraded from IE8 Beta 1 to Beta 2, a warning dialog will appear.

To avoid lock-in, Maliouta told users to first uninstall Windows XP SP3, then uninstall IE8 Beta 1 or Beta 2; they should then reinstall XP SP3 and follow that by installing IE8 RC1.

The big change in RC1's deployment, Maliouta said in a video question-and-answer posted to the TechNet site, is that Microsoft no longer asks users of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 to manually uninstall earlier IE previews before installing RC1. "We definitely heard feedback about how difficult it was," she said, referring to the earlier requirement.

Because of the change, Microsoft will be able to push the RC1 update to all users running IE8 Beta 1 or Beta 2 via Windows Update, a change from August when people running Vista and Server 2008 had to manually do a download. Microsoft, however, has not said when it will trigger the RC1 update, nor did Maliouta specify a date today.

Also unknown is a timetable for delivering an update to people running Windows 7 beta, Microsoft's preview of its next operating system. The company unveiled the public beta January 10.

Because of the timing of Windows 7's beta, its version of IE8 is a "pre-RC," according to James Pratt, a senior product manager for IE. Microsoft will upgrade IE8 in Windows 7 to RC1 via Windows Update, Maliouta said, although she did not disclose a timeline. Users will also be able to download IE8 RC1 manually from the company's Web site, she added.

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