Microsoft has announced that it is to release the most anticipated Internet Explorer 7 as a "high-priority" update through Automatic Updates for Windows XP users when the browser is made available. Automatic Updates will inform users that IE7 is ready to install and will present them with a welcome screen that presents key features and choices which they can choose to install or omit. The new browser is scheduled to be released for Windows XP during the fourth quarter of this year, and has a high emphasis on security.

Some concerns have been raised with IE7, both in terms of the "aggressiveness" of pushing it out via Automatic Updates in this way, but also with fears that Internet Explorer 7 will require developers of some online applications to change their code in order to work with the new browser; many online tools are expected to fail IE7 compatibility tests.

Writing in this blog, Tony Chor, Group Program Manager in Microsoft said that the company will be providing a "Blocker Toolkit" which will allow enterprise customers to block automatic delivery of IE7 in their organizations.

Installation of the new browser will preserve your current toolbars, home page, search settings, and favourites and installing will not change your choice of default browser.