Want IE9? You'll Need an Unreleased Service Pack with ThatMicrosoft played the schoolyard bully this week when an FAQ post indicated that the upcoming IE9 browser will not run without the not-yet-released Windows 7 Service Pack 1. 

Yeah, you read that right. You need an unreleased service pack to run IE9.

Add that to the fact that IE9 won't run on Windows XP period, and things get a tad annoying. More annoying still: We have no idea when you'll be able to get your hands on either IE9 or SP1, as Microsoft hasn't indicated a release date more definite than the first half of 2011 (let's hope it's simultaneous). 

The IE9 beta -- released earlier this month -- also requires a handful of updates, all of which are already available and primarily graphics-related bug fixes or additional support for IE9 functionality.

Evidently the final release will demand even more maintenance, despite the fact that Microsoft has repeatedly characterized Windows 7 SP1 as nothing but a collection of previously released security patches and other fixes. Some have guessed that the Windows 7 SP1 is nothing more than the security patches already out, wrapped up in a nice and neat package, but Microsoft has not yet commented on why SP1 is necessary to run the new browser.

Get Windows 7 and Get it Now 

Unsurprisingly, the holdups haven't kept Microsoft from urging consumers to migrate their PCs to Windows 7 or deploy IE8:  

"Microsoft recommends that organizations do not disrupt ongoing deployment projects but continue deploying Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8," stated the FAQ. 

If you're wondering why it would be a good idea to deploy now when IE9 is thisclose to hitting the market, you're not alone. 

"...thanks to the high degree of application compatibility between the two browser versions, any investments today in deploying Internet Explorer 8 will put you on the best path to transitioning to Internet Explorer 9 in the future," argued Rich Reynolds, Microsoft's chief Windows marketing executive, before encouraging consumers to explore IE9 regardless of what stage of Windows 7 deployment plans your organization is in.

If you're on board with Microsoft, you can try the IE9 beta out here

[UPDATE: Microsoft has reversed its course on the issue. Here is there most recent statement on the FAQ post: 

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.]