Microsoft to send IE upgrade nag notices to Windows 7 PCs in January

Jan. 12 will be the last security update for all but IE11 on the world's most-used OS

Microsoft will seed hundreds of millions of Windows 7 PCs next month with a nag notice reminding their owners that older editions of Internet Explorer (IE) are being dropped from the company's support list, a recently-published support document announced.

The Redmond, Wash. firm is giving an early warning of the impending notices so that enterprises have time to tweak the Windows registry on affected PCs to disable the nags. By long practice, Microsoft FYIs its corporate customers at least 30 days prior to major changes like this.

On Jan. 12, Microsoft will deliver the final security updates for IE8, IE9 and IE10 on Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) to make good on an August 2014 decision that it would shut down patches and other forms of support for those browsers on Windows 7.

The code to display the notifications will be bundled with the cumulative security updates slated to release on Jan. 12 for the affected browsers.

IE on other Microsoft OSes will also be purged from the support list that day. Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 will get the same notifications for IE8, IE9 and IE10.

Presumably, the upgrade-or-else nag notices will also be placed on Windows Vista PCs that are running anything but IE9, Windows 8 devices running IE10, and on Windows Server 2012 and Server 2012 R2 systems running anything except IE10 or IE11, respectively. However, Microsoft's support document did not list those OS editions.

Nor did the document spell out what users will see when the notification kicks in; it could appear in a separate window when Windows boots or IE launches, or more discreetly as an icon in the taskbar, as do warnings of possible problems with the PC.

The support document's primary purpose was to instruct enterprise IT staffs on how they could disable the nagging on employees' PCs. To do so, administrators will have to modify the Windows registry, the catch-all database that stores low-level settings for the operating system.

"For environments in which the migration to Internet Explorer 11 is incomplete, you can disable the notification feature by configuring a registry key," the document stated.

Company IT staffs usually push registry tweaks to managed PCs using log-on scripts, batch files or PowerShell.

Advanced and power users can make the same changes to the registry on individual PCs if they want to block the warning from appearing.

Microsoft did not say how long the upgrade warnings would persist, but they will likely keep nagging until the user finally upgrades to IE11.

There will be a lot of Windows users who will see the notifications, according to analytics company Net Applications. Its latest data showed that approximately 370 million PCs worldwide ran a soon-to-be-obsolete version of IE in November.

Microsoft's support document announcing the nag notices and offered registry changes as an option can be found on the company's website.

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