Microsoft is making its updates to IE only available for Windows XP.

To which I say, what about all of those servers out there?Surely they include Server 2003 in this. But that’s a problem. Upgrading to Server 2003 isn’t always an option. Some applications only run on Windows NT 4.0, or on Windows 2000.

Unfortunately, sometimes you have to have a web browser installed on a server to get updates, either from your vendor or from MS. Windows Update, of course, only works with Internet Explorer.

One option is to uninstall Internet Explorer using the tools from litepc.com. A potentially more conservative option is to keep IE installed, use it exclusively for Windows Update, and install another lightweight browser for searching knowledge bases and downloading patches from vendors. Offbyone is a good choice. It has no Java or Javascript, so in theory it should be very secure. It’s standalone, so it won’t add more muck to your system. To install it, copy the executable somewhere. To uninstall it, delete the executable.

An even better option is just to run as few servers on Windows as possible, since they insist on installing unnecessary and potentially exploitable software on servers–Windows Media Player and DirectX are other glaring examples of this–but I seem to hold the minority opinion on that. Maybe now that they wilfully and deliberately install security holes on servers and refuse to patch them unless you run the very newest versions, that will change.

But I’m not holding my breath.