Australia and Brazil will be the first cabs off the rank in January 2012 when Microsoft begins to automatically update users to the latest available Internet Explorer version for their Windows desktop.

Users still on Windows XP that use IE6 or IE7 will be automatically upgraded to IE8, while Windows 7 and Vista users will be upgraded to IE9 if they have IE8 installed.

The ability to opt-out of the upgrade is available for users who have previously blocked any of the browser upgrades through Windows Update, or installed the Automatic Update Blocker toolkits for IE8 or IE9. The option will also exist to uninstall any update and continue using the original browser bundled with the operating system.

Microsoft says that the update will not change the user’s home page, search provider or default browser settings.

This move is one that I wish Microsoft would have implemented a long time ago, but better late than never. Enterprises that are stuck on IE6 still have the ability to remain so, but Joe User who has never delved into Windows Update’s optional updates will have a better and safer browser.

Unfortunately, it continues to show the folly of not making IE9 or IE10 available for older Windows installs; it would be a great day if the entire Windows install base could be made to move to the more modern IE9 and the upcoming IE10. Instead, we will have XP users stuck on IE8 and Vista users on IE9.

A pair of thorns have been removed from the web developer’s side, but a couple still remain for Microsoft to take care of.