Why Can’t All Software Installation Be Like This?

By  |  Friday, July 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Microsoft is saying it’ll roll out an update to Internet Explorer 8 in August with a tweak to the setup routine which I just love. If you have another browser set as the default, you’ll see this dialog when you run IE for the first time:

Internet Explorer First Run

Not only does it not set IE as the default browser without your permission, but it doesn’t even pre-select IE–an option which is always the one that Microsoft would prefer, but frequently not the one the user in question prefers. You’re forced to click your preferred option; there’s essentially no way to end up with IE as your default browser by accident, and nobody will feel that Microsoft is tugging at his or her sleeve or interfering with the system configuration.

[UPDATE: Clarification based on feedback in comments–what Microsoft is doing is showing you this dialog even if you chose Express Settings, which formerly set IE8 as the default browser.]

(Okay, it’s possible that some people will maintain that Microsoft shouldn’t even ask about default browser settings–but it seems like a reasonable matter to bring up during installation of a new browser.)

I’d like to see every software company with a product that involves operating system default settings take this approach; it should also be required behavior when it comes to depositing icons in the Start menu, the desktop, and the System Tray.

The world of software and the Web is rife with examples of companies erring on the side of serving their own interests rather than helping consumers get what they want. The next time I install IE 8 on a system and see this dialog, it’ll make me feel better about Microsoft’s role as a citizen of the dominion that is my PC. Isn’t it just possible that that’s worth more to the company than any number of PCs having their default browser switched to IE for reasons other than express desire of the computer’s owner?


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21 Comments For This Post

  1. Scott Beamer Says:

    They’ve been doing this with IE 8 for months now…

  2. Alan Says:

    I agree. I’d like to see Firefox and the others do it this way. I recently installed Firefox 3.5. It hijacked my default browser away from Chrome because I didn’t notice the small checkbox on one of the setup screens, which was pre-selected for my convenience. I was majorly annoyed.

  3. Richard Says:

    This has been in place for quite some time.

    I find the IE8 installation and setup overbearing. There are too many questions, too many decisions, takes too much time. And for what? IE8 is in last place compared to the latest versions of Firefox, Google, Chrome, Apple Safari or Opera.

    We’d be better off if Microsoft installed Firefox 3.5.1 for us and stopped pushing IE8 altogether.

  4. Tim F. Says:

    As Richard says, applauding the IE8 install is laughable. There are 8 screens for a standard install (someone selecting Google as the default browser). At least they did abandon the lame as default search selection page that buried Google beneath at least 5 properties you’ve never heard of. There are actually two different screens for approving automatic updates (Why? Presumably they like the idea of holding back compatibility mode. Conspiracy theory? Maybe, but then I’d have to ask why is that the only screen out of 8 which bizarrely lacks alt key shortcuts?) Why doesn’t Microsoft tell you that Smart Screen interferes with Spybot S&D and SpywareBlaster and numerous other quality malware blockers making the browser dog slow? Etc… Microsoft and especially IE8 have much further to go when it comes to a quality install.

    And don’t get me started on the changes to the non-secure items warning windows!

  5. Harry McCracken Says:

    I shoulda been clearer (and have amended the post): As Microsoft explains it in its post on this, the IE8 install used to involve an Express Settings option which set IE8 as the default browser. Now even if you choose Express Settings, it puts the default-settings chooser in front of you, without anything selected.

    Also, in case it wasn’t clear: My post wasn’t a blanket approval of the IE8 setup process, just of Microsoft taking extra measures to prevent unintentional selection of IE8 as the default browser.


  6. MehGerbil Says:

    Oh dear… the IE haters are out again.
    No matter what Microsoft does it just isn’t right.

    Here we get behavior that the Firefox Zombies have been demanding for years and it still isn’t right because – I dunno, pull some arbitrary claim outta your arse that 8 pages of setup dialog passes some magical limit of acceptability – and continue to whine anyways.

    You hate Microsoft.
    You hate IE.
    You hate Bill Gates.

    We all get it already.


  7. leeuwerik Says:

    On my system the installation went perfect.
    Next day on booting my PC I got the message ‘Windows not started – cannot find the file hal.dll in System32’.
    I was forced to reinstall Windows from scratch !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    How’s that to start your day.

  8. Mouse Says:

    That’s a bad way to start the day leeuweril. Although hal.dll has zero to do with IE, but thank you for letting us know of your superfluous computer woes.

  9. Robbie Says:

    IE has done that for a while. Was version 6 the last version of IE you used????

  10. Eduardo Says:

    @Mouse: Why don’t you google IE8 hal.dll and check how many hits you have. You would be suprised. It has nothing to do with IE8 directly but it has a lot to do with the boot.ini file. This is just the usual “I have spent millions on thiss but I wasn’t able to deliver something that actually SEEMS to be working” bull.

  11. Fethalion Says:

    It’s amazing that you’re complaining about IE8’s long installer – if you don’t want IE8, why bother installing it? You can just click it away if it comes with the automatic update.

    Also, unless you’re a webdesigner/developer, why bother having two web browsers? Just install the one you want and be done about it.

    Also, stop complaining about Microsoft shipping their operating system with IE instead of any other, it’s a reason why they do this – so you can choose for yourself if you want something better.

    I’m no fan of IE myself, so I use Firefox because of the way it handles Bookmarks, I have tried others but always gone back to FF.

  12. Neil Says:

    I don’t mind IE8, but it’s too slow, so I’m sticking with FF and Chrome as my first choices. HOWEVER, IE8 keeps deciding it’s the default browser at least once a day anyway. Very annoying indeed. I’ve not heard too many other people say they’ve experienced this, so maybe it’s just something quirky about my setup.

  13. Flavio Says:

    i like this too as a general behavious, i’m on the mac and not coming back 😀

    btw i think antitrust should knock on Google’s door, because if you visit the search engine with IE6 you get a suggestion to upgrade the browser to a newer and it suggests Chrome…

  14. MehGerbil Says:


    Suggesting the installation of a software package isn’t a crime unless you are European – if it were, then every Apple ad we see on TV would be the basis for a lawsuit.

    The irony of a Mac user complaining about Google suggesting Chrome is kinda funny. You use the most proprietary system on the planet outside of military grade mainframe hardware/software.

  15. coward Says:


    I was about to post the same thing until I saw your insightful comment! Not much in this life gets me as annoyed as the MS bashers, especially when MS genuinely appears to be trying to make accomodations for everyone.

  16. Scott Says:

    I’d like to see browser’s other then IE offer even the fraction of the options that IE has. I don’t care if other browsers are faster or more stable. I work in the IT department of a medium sized company. We do everything we can to prevent other browsers from being installed or run or office or lab computers. ONLY IE can be centrally controlled. ONLY IE can have it’s porn mode disabled. ONLY IE can be forced to run in a secure mode. With all the hackings and stolen credit card numbers we just can’t risk allowing browsers other than IE.

  17. Minooch Says:


    I agree – Gotta love Group policies – They make it so much easier

  18. HyCe Says:

    Well, i can’t say i had a good experience with the Setup of IE8. After the update, i realized that the Quicklaunch shortcut of Firefox was REPLACED by IE. I was with 2 IE Shortcuts in the Quicklaunch, and also the default browser was set to IE without asking.

    So, talking about take-over….

  19. Jer Says:

    Too bad IE8 is a pile of garbage, but at least there is a check box to make it so you don’t have to keep the garbage.
    Seriously, IE8 doesn’t conform to any of todays web standards. They should call it IE8 codename “break s**t”. Can you tell I am a web developer?

  20. coward Says:


    Haha, so passing the Acid2 test isn’t compliant enough for you? Stop bagging it and learn the standards 😉

  21. Meh_Gerbil Says:


    Passing the ACID2 test was important up until IE8 managed to pull it off. Once that happened, ACID3 became very important. It’s called moving the goalposts – that way, they never have to be happy.

    BTW, if Jer really were a web developer he’d know that the latest versions of Firefox and Opera do NOT pass ACID3 either. The web standards are developing – as such, everyone is playing catch up.