Microsoft slips Windows 10 upgrade ads into Internet Explorer security patch

Windows 10 upgrade prompts are coming to Internet Explorer.

internet explorer logo

Microsoft is adding a new weapon to its aggressive Windows 10 push—or at least it appears that it is.

Earlier in the week, Microsoft added what sounds a lot like an advertisement for Windows 10 to its Patch Tuesday release for Internet Explorer, bundling it in with a critical security patch. The new update affects only Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs and brings an upgrade prompt to Internet Explorer 11.

In its description of update KB3146449, Microsoft says it “adds functionality to Internet Explorer 11 on some computers that lets users learn about Windows 10 or start an upgrade to Windows 10.” Or as we common folk call it, an ad.

As Woody Leonhard at InfoWorld first reported, this update will supposedly put a blue banner on the IE11 new tab page that says, “Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10.” ExtremeTech points out this is not the same as the blue banner that pops up when you visit sites like MSN.com recommending an upgrade to Windows 10.

It also appears this ad can’t be stopped by rolling back the update, as it’s built right into KB3139929, a critical security update for IE11.

The impact on you at home: So far neither Leonhard nor ExtremeTech were able to get the supposed blue banners to show up in IE11 in testing. It may be that Microsoft hasn’t yet activated the banner ads, or that the company had second thoughts about the strategy. Either way, packaging Windows 10 upgrade prompts in a security update is a terrible idea and a breach of user trust.

The update went out to all PCs as part of the Patch Tuesday updates, but only non-domain joined PCs—such as home users and small businesses—will see the ads. PCs that are managed by an IT department will not see the new update prompts. At least not yet.

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