Microsoft has apparently changed its mind about whether Internet Explorer 9 will require a yet-to-be-released update to Windows 7. Earlier this week, Microsoft said the final version of IE9 will require Windows 7 Service Pack 1, as Computerworld previously reported.

But Microsoft's FAQ on IE9 for IT professionals now says the opposite: "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."

According to Ars Technica, a previous version of the FAQ said that "Internet Explorer 9 will require Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1). Therefore, organisations must plan, pilot, and deploy Internet Explorer 9 as part of or after a Windows 7 SP1 deployment."

Despite the change in wording, Microsoft says its plans for IE9 haven't changed. "There wasn't a change in plans about IE9 requiring SP1," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "Honestly the shift in verbiage on TechCenter should probably be considered as a clarification about how IE9 requirements will be approached."

Microsoft recently released IE9 in beta, showing off a significant improvement in speed and performance in the Internet Explorer browser. The question in the FAQ concerns how the post-beta version of IE9 will be deployed. Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is also in beta, and will not receive a final release until the first half of 2011. 

Although IE9 will be able to run on pre-SP1 versions of Windows 7, a system reboot will be required to install additional operating system components.

"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," Microsoft says. "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."

Microsoft's IE9 FAQ says enterprises should not wait for IE9 to deploy Windows 7. Instead, they should move forward with Windows 7 deployments with Internet Explorer 8 and upgrade to IE9 when it is ready.

Windows 7 deployments are happening rapidly, with market share now at nearly 16%, ahead of the market share for Windows Vista. However, Windows XP is still the most widely used operating system, with nearly 61% of the market.Microsoft also has the most widely used browser, with 60% of users on Internet Explorer, according to Net Applications.

However, Microsoft has steadily lost share to Firefox and Google Chrome. With IE9, Microsoft takes advantage of HTML5 to provide faster web surfing.