For a long time, one beef among experienced Windows users has been the company’s insistence on using Internet Explorer for grabbing updates. But starting in mid-October, 2016, MS opens its Update Catalog to non-IE browsers. But there’s a catch. Those who visit the catalog using another browser still see this message if they visit https://catalog.update.microsoft.com/:
If you use Google to navigate to the Update Catalog in Chrome, you still see this.
But if you know where to surf, you can see and access the Update Catalog quite nicely. This works for those using Chrome, Edge, or another non-IE browser of your choosing. The new, browser-friendly URL is http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/. Here’s what Chrome showed me just now, using that URL instead of the preceding one:
Insert a www in front of the old base URL, drop the “s” in https, and Chrome shows this.
Why MS Opens Its Update Catalog to Non-IE Browsers Matters
This may seem like a non-issue to some readers. But in some corporate environments, policy dictates use of specific browsers, and only those browsers. If IE wasn’t on that list, admins were unable to access the Update Catalog without somehow circumventing that policy. Now, the new URL works with all the modern browsers I tried (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera). Thus, I’m assuming the doors are also open to other browsers outside this short list of leading choices among the hundreds of browsers available for Windows today. Certain recent issues with installing Cumulative Updates can necessitate manual downloads of items that don’t or won’t install automatically. That’s what makes this new open-door Catalog a good thing.
Anybody looking for a deeper explanation for why this change occurred need only look at this message that appears in Edge. It pops up when you try to open the old URL for the Update Catalog:
It would hardly do for MS’s new flagship browser to describe the current Update Catalog as “vintage web tech” eh?
Obviously, if MS wants to hitch its wagon to Edge going forward, it should handle the Update Catalog directly. I’m just glad the company decided to let other browsers into the catalog as well. They could just as easily have restricted it only to Edge and IE, and left all the others out in the cold. I hope it speaks to the new sense of open-ness and Open Source support that’s manifesting at Microsoft that they let the other browsers in through the same door that opened for Edge. When MS opens its update catalog to non-IE browsers, everybody wins!