Microsoft has made a tool kit available that IT staffers can use to block Internet Explorer 8 from automatically being installed on PCs when the browser is released later this year.

The tool kit is another hint that Microsoft is getting close to shipping IE8. In 2006, the vendor issued a blocker for IE7, then delivered the finished software less than three months later.

In a blog post, IE program manager Jane Maliouta said Microsoft will push IE8 to users via its update services. But, she wrote, "we know many IT organisations will still want to test the browser before it is deployed."

The tool kit has two components: an executable script that creates a new Windows registry key to stymie automatic downloading, and a template for setting group policies.