Yesterday, a couple of news stories went around regarding Windows 7 SP1 as a pre-requirement for users who wanted to install IE9 with Windows 7. This is no longer the case as it had sounded yesterday. In fact, Microsoft will not require SP1 as a pre-req for Windows 7 users who wish to install IE9. From Microsoft (the quote can be found about half-way down the page):

When Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 9, will it require Windows 7 Service Pack 1?

No. Internet Explorer 9 will install on systems that have either Windows 7 RTM or Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) installed. When you install Internet Explorer 9 on a system that has Windows 7 RTM installed, additional operating system components are included as part of the installation of Internet Explorer 9. When you install Internet Explorer 9 on a system that has Windows 7 SP1 installed, these additional components are already present with Windows 7 SP1, and do not need to be reinstalled when you install Internet Explorer 9. For this reason, a system reboot is not required when you install Internet Explorer 9 on a system that has Windows 7 SP1 installed.

So, Windows 7 will not require SP1 if you wish to install IE9. As such, the current beta does not require it either. I do, however, have IE9 installed on machines with and without the Windows 7 SP1 beta installed for testing purposes. You will, however, have to install additional updates as noted in the above quote if you do not have Windows 7 SP1 already installed. These updates are apparently related to the Direct2D and the Media Foundation APIs. Of course, these are essential for peak performance of IE9, so it is worthwhile to get these updates.

I’m not sure if the initial decision to require Windows 7 SP1 may still be a good indication of the IE9 and SP1 release  points and whether or not they will be released together. My understanding is that both IE9 and Windows 7 SP1 would be shipping in the first half of 2011 (though I wasn’t sure which would be released first). Perhaps at the MIX’11 conference? That would be interesting, and fitting (for IE9), since it was at MIX’10 that Microsoft unveiled the first IE9 Platform Preview. I was, however, a bit surprised with the completeness of the Beta and did think that Microsoft would possibly release IE9 a little earlier, but it seems like these days, a Beta from Microsoft is more closer to the final product even though users will still have to wait for the final release to come out.

Something else worth noting, from the FAQ that Microsoft provided, it’s definitely evident that they are trying to push IE9 in the enterprise. Since IE9 will only be available for Windows Vista SP2 and Windows 7, this will be a further push to get enterprises to upgrade to Windows 7.

If you haven’t given the IE9 Beta a test run yet, I highly suggested trying it out. It is vastly superior to its predecessors. You can download IE9 Beta from Microsoft’s Beauty of the Web.