From the IE Blog comes word that IE7 will be marked as a high priority update so that Automatic Updates will download it to your PC as soon as it’s available:
As I said earlier, AU will notify you when IE7 is ready to install. Alternately, you will be able to visit the Windows Update or Microsoft Update sites and obtain IE7 by performing an “Express” scan for high-priority updates. Either way, you will see the welcome screen that allows you to choose whether to install it. (Users will also be able to download IE7 from the Microsoft Download Center.)
If you decide to install IE7, it will preserve your current toolbars, home page, search settings, and favorites and installing will not change your choice of default browser. You will also be able to roll back to IE6 at any point by using Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel. Finally, users who have AU turned off will not be notified.
This is interesting considering that at one point in time Microsoft was planning on using IE7 as an incentive for people to upgrade to Windows Vista, but as Firefox has gained market share the desire to maintain their lead in the browser market ended up overriding their desire to get people to upgrade the OS. This adds an element of irony to the decision to make it a “high priority” update.
On the bright side at least it won’t try to force install itself nor will it change your default browser choice even if you do install it so I’ll probably end up slapping it on once the final version is available. I’ve been playing around with a beta version at work and it’s not bad. Not good enough to replace Firefox yet, but a buttload better than IE6.