Microsoft has slowly begun shipping automatic updates of IE7 (Internet Explorer 7) to all users of the English language version of the browser.

Microsoft started delivering the new browser to beta testers shortly after IE7's 18 October launch, but automatic updates to other IE6 users started going out a few days ago, said Gary Schare, a director of product management with the IE team.

Microsoft has been sending the updates to 1 percent of English-language IE6 users – about one million PCs – per day, Schare said.

Schare's team is allowing three months to roll out the IE7 to all users, but they hope the process will move more quickly than that. "We'd like to get the software out to as many people as quickly as possible, because we think there's a lot of security value," he said.

The IE team has been keeping the pace of the rollout low to prevent Microsoft's technical support centre from being overwhelmed, and to prevent administrators who are not blocking the update from being crushed with software updates next week when Microsoft will release six sets of security patches. "We keep the IE throttle low, so when the security updates come out next Tuesday, they still have priority over IE," he said.

To date the downloads have been "quite smooth", Share said. But he declined to say whether he now thought the rollout would finish ahead of the self-imposed three-month deadline.

Though these automatic updates are sent without any interaction from the Windows user, the software asks customers whether they want to install IE7 before proceeding with the installation.