June 12, 2009 at 6:13 pm
Microsoft will ship Windows 7 without Internet Explorer 8. This is in response to the EU’s antitrust investigation into its bundling of its browser with Windows. This version will be called Windows 7 E. It will be exactly the same as other Windows 7 versions available in other regions and will only differ with the removal of IE8.
This will apply to both OEM and retail versions, meaning that the question now asked is how will you stick a browser onto your new system without a browser? OEMs will have the option to add the browser back in, ship another browser, or ship multiple browsers. “Computer manufacturers will be able to add any browser they want to their Windows 7 machines, including Internet Explorer, so European consumers who purchase new PCs will be able to access the Internet without any problem. Consumers will also be able to add any Web browser to their PCs, to supplement or replace the browsers preinstalled by their computer manufacturer,” said Dave Heiner, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel.
While OEMs will have access to a free “IE8 pack” that allows them to add the browser back in, consumers who purchase retail copies will not have a browser that they can use to download a browser. Therefore, Microsoft will offer IE8 via CD, FTP, and retail channels. It looks like Mozilla, Opera, Google, and Apple will have to do the same if they want European Windows 7 adopters to have access to their browsers. It was suggested to Microsoft to add a choice of third-party browsers, but it looks like they weren’t too keen on the idea, especially as the browser market is so competitive nowadays.
“Obviously, this is a big step for Microsoft. But we’re committed to launching Windows 7 on time in Europe, so we need to address the legal realities in Europe, including the risk of large fines. We believe that this new approach, while not our first choice, is the best path forward given the ongoing legal case in Europe.”