Internet Explorer 8 Blocker Toolkit arrives

As with IE7, Microsoft is planning to distribute IE8 as a high-priority update through Automatic Updates (AU), as well as the Windows Update (WU) and Microsoft Update (MU) services. The company is also offering a tool for those who want to avoid the automatic distribution: the Internet Explorer 8 Blocker Toolkit is available for download from the Microsoft Download Center (MDC).

IE8 will be sent out automatically sometime after it is available as a download on MDC. The toolkit will turn IE8 into an optional update on all supported operating systems: Windows XP SP2 and above, Windows Server 2003 SP2 and above, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008. For Vista and Server 2008, IE8 will be listed as Important, while for XP and Server 2003, the update will be listed as High Priority. The tool is mainly aimed at IT professionals working in a corporate environment who still need test the new browser with internal applications and sites, although individuals may use it as well.

The release comes just before Microsoft is expected to give the public an IE8 Release Candidate. A final version is expected sometime after, possibly in April. The latest build Microsoft gave testers was 8.0.6001.18344, which was given out as part of an out-of-band security update. Right before that, testers were given RC1 (8.0.6001.18343). The public still only has access to IE8 Beta 2, which was released in August.