Call me crazy, but I think if you’re going to hold yourself out as a Microsoft expert and print critical comments from readers, you should make at least a minimal effort to fact-check those comments.
Today’s case in point is from Joe Wilcox, who took over Microsoft Watch from Mary Jo Foley a few months ago. In a muddled mess of a column about IE7, Joe includes this quote from a reader:
“IE 7 is horrible!” said Mark Brugler. The browser “crashed every time I tried to watch a video.” The technical director for a theatre in Tucson, Ariz. complained that he “didn’t like the fact that [IE 7] was forced upon me via Microsoft updates and I was not given the choice to install it.”
The reason this jumped out at me is I’ve been rebuilding PCs this week and I’ve run into the IE7 installation via Windows Update and Microsoft Update not once but twice. Joe’s reader is, to put it charitably, wrong. IE7 is not – indeed, cannot be – installed without the user’s explicit consent. In fact, there are three separate places where you have to provide that consent, or the installation fails.
This is true even if you have Automatic Updates turned on. Although IE7 is included as a Critical Update, it is not installed until you go through all of the following steps. (These screens are from Windows 2003, but they are identical in Windows XP.)
First, you have to agree to the installation. You can accept it, postpone it, or decline the upgrade completely. I’ve circled those three options in the screen below:
After you click the Install button, you have to read the license agreement and click a button to indicate that you accept it. If you don’t click I Accept, the upgrade doesn’t get installed. See for yourself:
And finally, you have to go through a Windows Genuine Advantage check to prove that you’re running a legally licensed copy of Windows. If you click Cancel instead of Validate in the dialog box here, the installation stops.
And even after you clear all three of these hurdles, you have to go through one more dialog box, in which the installer offers to install the latest IE updates and runs the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool.
I don’t know whether Joe’s reader is deliberately lying about his experience or if he blacked out and his head just slammed into the keyboard four times, unconsciously approving all these dialog boxes and thereby installing IE7 without his knowledge. But Joe should know better. Microsoft Watch took a big dive after Mary Jo left, leading me to unsubscribe. I thought Joe would bring a higher standard of journalism, but I’m beginning to suspect I was wrong.
Update: Holy crap. It’s worse than I thought. A commenter at Microsoft Watch highlights the same ignorant comment I did and points out:
Fact: MS Update asks you 4 times in separate LARGE dialog boxes if you want to install IE7.
Joe responds by jumping into the hole he’s dug and digging about six feet deeper (I’ve highlighted the good part):
The guy felt like he had no choice. That’s why I let the whole comment stand, rather than truncating it. Perception is hugely important to companies like Microsoft.
Before coming to Microsoft Watch, I was an an analyst with JupiterReserch [sic]. A few years ago, one of Jupiter’s surveys revealed that about one third of Windows XP users had no firewall protection. Technically, this is false, because Windows XP has a built-in firewall. But I didn’t discount the finding simply because the people were wrong. The data revealed a larger problem: That these users didn’t know that Windows XP had an installed firewall.
Now go back up and look at those dialog boxes again. See that button that says Don’t Install? See the one that says I Decline? Now, please, reconcile those options with the statement of a supposed IT professional who says, “[IE 7] was forced upon me via Microsoft updates and I was not given the choice to install it.”
Joe, your original post was lame. Your follow-up comments are mind-boggling. If you really believe this, you should take up a new career in UFO research.