Microsoft proposes launching an IE-free Windows 7 'E' in Europe

Microsoft proposes launching an IE-free Windows 7 'E' in Europe

Summary: Microsoft is stepping up its campaign to try to appease European Commission (EC) regulators who are mulling possible remedies in the ongoing Opera-Microsoft browser-bundling case in the European Union.According to News.


Microsoft is stepping up its campaign to try to appease European Commission (EC) regulators who are mulling possible remedies in the ongoing Opera-Microsoft browser-bundling case in the European Union.

According to, Microsoft's newest proposal is to offer a version of Windows 7 which strips out Internet Explorer (IE) 8. Not hides it -- like is currently possible via a "remove features" capability. The Softies are proposing to sell a separate version, designated Windows 7 E which doesn't include a browser in it at all.

Sources close to Microsoft confirmed that Microsoft has been notifying PC makers of its intention to field Windows 7 E in the European Union as a way to comply with antitrust regulations there.

Microsoft added the "Remove IE" switch to Windows 7 a few months ago. IE was just one of a number of "removable" features in the Release Candidate build of Windows 7, which Microsoft made available to testers in late April. The full list of user-removable Windows 7 features (in addition to ones that already may be "deselected" in Vista) include:

  • Windows Media Player
  • Windows Media Center
  • Windows DVD Maker
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Windows Search
  • Handwriting Recognition (through the Tablet PC Components option)
  • Windows Gadget Platform
  • Fax and Scan
  • XPS Viewer and Services (including the Virtual Print Driver)

Turning off these features didn't actually permanently remove them from the operating system. As Microsoft officials acknowledged in a blog posting in March:

“If a feature is deselected, it is not available for use. This means the files (binaries and data) are not loaded by the operating system (for security-conscious customers) and not available to users on the computer. These same files are staged so that the features can easily be added back to the running OS without additional media. This staging is important feedback we have received from customers who definitely do not like to dig up the installation DVD.”

But the Windows 7 E release allegedly would do more than just hide IE 8. It would require users and OEMs who wanted IE to install it separately.

As explains:

"For computer makers that want it, Microsoft will offer a free "IE 8 pack" that allows them to add the browser back in. It's a little more complicated for consumers that buy a retail copy of Windows 7. Because the operating system lacks a browser, there's not direct way to go to Microsoft's Web site to download one. Microsoft plans to make it as easy as possible for folks in Europe to get the browser, though and plans to offer it via CD, FTP and through retail channels, according to a person a familiar with the situation."

Microsoft won't offer both IE-8-free and an IE-8-bundled versions of Windows 7 in the EU, according to the leaked memo. Microsoft does provide both the Media-Player-bundled and Media-Player-free (Windows XP and Windows Vista N) versions of Windows in the EU. Microsoft also isn't offering to strip IE out of older versions of Windows, like XP and Vista, as part of this alternative.

Earlier this week, word leaked that the EC regulators were seeking input from PC makers about a possible "ballot screen" remedy, via which users would be offered a choice of IE and competing browsers on new Windows PCs. The EC allegedly has been seeking a remedy in the Opera case which would provide Microsoft's competitors with some kind of Microsoft-provided distribution vehicle for either their actual browser bits or links to their browser download sites in order to level the browser playing field.

I doubt this new alternative is going to appease the EU regulators, as it simply punishes consumers. If you thought no one wanted Windows Vista N, I predict the demand for Windows 7 E will be just as bad, if not worse. What's your take? Is offering a Windows 7 E a lame proposal?

Topics: Software, Browser, Government, Government UK, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Yes, it's very lame

    It's going to be the same as the no media player edition. No one will buy it, they'll probably pirate the ie edition first before they would buy it or switch to another os.
    • But it makes them compliant

      MS merely has to make it available. Heck, they can even make a minimal amount of pressings and offer it on back order if they run out. MS does not have to make a single sale to become compliant.

      And no, this will neither encourage nor discourage piracy. I'm sure IE will still be available for download for this edition, just as all the other browsers will be available. Bringing piracy into this discussion is just a red herring.
      Michael Kelly
      • You are right

        With easy downloads of any browser, piracy probably wouldn't come into play. Just forget that part :)
        good point on the first paragraph too.
      • Great article!

        Thanks again for the lovely article, hope it goes thru.
      • But it makes them compliant...

        Why should Microsoft comply? I'm sure if I designed and built a good product I would never let someone come along and say..ok now you have to share your secret product information with other companies so they can compete with you. What a joke! If they want to compete then build an equal or superior product and stand on their own two feet, I think this is disgusting.
        After all, and by comparison, if I you write a book and it is a huge best-seller and the EU comes along and says..ok now you have too much market share so you have to use your market to sell these other three author's books with yours. Yeah right!
        Microsoft should just say hey it's my ball and you are not playing, and those of us who like and/or want their products will still buy them hopefully without any interference from these jokers who are trying to justify their own existence. Hold out MS, the EU is on the road out anyway. It is a monster created by the Psychopaths and it is just about to turn around and bite them in the ass!
        • What a rude Cretin

          You Sir are a narrow minded bigot with a great deficiency in the intelligence department, I suggest you take your comment to the lavatory.
          Richard Turpin
          • Cretin?

            If you ever write anything productive or conducive to good discussion on here instead of sniping at everyone else like the moron you are, then we may be interested in what you have to say. Until then shut up! You are the biggest cretin on here.
            Get a life half-wit!
            You have been writing that down all day practising how to say it....wait a minute people, give him a piece of paper, he wants to say something else.
        • What on Earth are you on about?

          What on Earth are you on about? You clearly either
          have no idea of what the EU ruling is about, what
          anti-competitiveness is about or no idea what the
          EU is and, much as I and many others in England
          would like, the EU is not on its way out - it is
          getting bigger!
          • What on Earth are you on about?

            Thanks for that, but there are other people in the EU with a very different perspective from those of you in "England". Over here we interact with many people from many member states in the EU because our borders are joined unlike living on an island. People over here are very much against the EU and the fact that they are still trying to expand it before any of the previous systems and rules have been seen to work. They are disenchanted and angry that we must be burdened with mass immigration as if we do not have enough troubles of our own, and also that the majority of these in-comers are not qualified in anything and therefore burden our already struggling economies. Anywhere else a recession would mean closing the door until things improve, but The Eu is not listening to the various populations who are all saying the same thing. That includes England I take it?
            As for the future of the EU, let's wait and see shall we?
            Back on topic, anti-competition rules and regulations are the cause of most of the financial problems in the EU because it was supposed to create less competition among member states but by abusing the rules big business has used it to carry out rampant price-fixing instead of competing, thereby creating runaway greed which we are all feeling the effects of. We'll see if the EU will get bigger...sentiments over here are running high on that subject.
            Opera is now trying some of the same i.e. abusing the system to achieve their own ends.
          • Re: What on Earth are you on about?

            "big business has used it to carry out rampant price-fixing instead of competing"

            Is there anywhere they haven't done this? The nature of business is to take advantage where and when it can, hence the need for anti-trust etc laws

            There is no consensus on EU enlargement or survival, except amongst politicians who all want their gravy train to continue. In the UK we're largely against it because we tend to be a bit xenophobic anyway as a race, and have tended to look West rather than East, in France & Germany it enjoys more support because of the shared land borders and history of wars and invasions.

            One thing's for sure though, EU will not be disappearing within our lifetimes, and in reality a United States of Europe is a much more likely end scenario than disbandment.
    • Maybe Moblin Fastboot Win 7 E...

      If Intel-based PCs had Moblin with Fastboot in ROM, then Win 7 E edition could actually become the default. People would be able to get on the Internet using Moblin, download their favorite Windows browser (FireFox!) and then boot into Win 7 to install it. (If they boot into Windows at all...)

      We're long overdue for a quick-booting, plug-and-play, Internet access OS in ROM. After a quarter of a century of progress, the old-style PC BIOS needs to be shot and buried.
    • If Microsoft doesn't offer an EU Edition ...

      ... that include IE, then EU citizens will not be able ot make that choice -- unless they want to buy Windows on the black market.
      M Wagner
      • Very good point

        This whole thing smacks. The very fact that the EU are telling *any manufacturer* - let alone MS, basically how to make their products, is ridiculous.

        I'm afraid i've heard it all now. There's a time and place for standardisation, but i simply don't see - for one second - how unbundling IE8 from W7 is *an upside* for anyone.


        This line by the EU legislators is downright pathetic.

        • It's not...

          "unbundling", it's untying. Huge difference. For some reason this fact seems lost on MS apologists
          • The point is, it is being forced on Microsoft ...

            ... and those Microsoft customers who are ill-equipped to choose one browser over another.

            If the EU wants to tell OEMs to offer customers a choice of browsers, the features ALREADY included in Windows 7 will permit that AND the customer who DOES know the difference can choose. The user who buys a PC with no browser on it has no way to choose anything.

            A novice customer who walks into a Wal-Mart in London and says "I want that computer" walks out with a computer that cannot talk to the Internet. How helpful is that? Or, if they are in an electronics retailer, they are told they MUST choose a browser. They will immediately ask the saleman what s/he recommends. Where's the customer choice there?

            Offering customers a choice of configuration is the OEMs job. Not Microsoft's.

            OEMs in the USA offer:

            - AMD or Intel.
            - MS Office, MS Works, or WordPerfect Office. They COULD also offer OpenOffice.
            - They COULD offer IE or FireFox or Netscape or Safari (or Opera, etc.).
            - They COULD offer iTunes or Rhapsody or Napster (or whatever).
            - They could offer ANYTHING from the vast GNU library of Windows ports.

            Micrsoft has no say in OEM decisions so that's where the EU needs to exert its influence.
            M Wagner
          • "Micrsoft has no say in OEM decisions "

            no say, perhaps but they have a LOT of influence $$$$. One solution might be a repository so that on initial setup when the end user gets his new box, they can choose the browser of their choice.
          • Why should it be the OEM's decision?

            Their job is to build hardware, not software.

            They should be selling hardware with blank HDs and let the customer at the point of sale choose what to put on it. Both the OS and the browser.

            If the customer's too stupid to know how to use a set-up wizard, then let the retailer install it for them.

            None of that should be Dell's job or HP's job or Sony's job.
            Wintel BSOD
          • Micrsoft has no say in OEM decisions ?!?!?!?!

            Are you mad?

            Their last trip through the US courts was awash with Microsoft documents discussing forcing OEM's to comply with their wishes on various fronts
          • Same End Result

            And the result is, "Lack of a way to get a choice". I"m NOT and MS Fanboy, but telling MS they have to include other vendors products is damn right stupid. I suspect I should move to Europe, because obviously sometime in the near future I'll be able to buy a new car and get about 8 sets of tires, you know, just in case I don't like the Bridgestones that came with my car, I can then switch to the Coopers. But wait, then I'll just realize how crappy the Coopers are compared to the Bridgestones and switch back! Maybe when I purchase a DVD movie, I should automatically get the BlueRAY disc also. This way I'll know the difference. How about including other Operating Systems, after all there is a plethora to choose from. If I order a system with and AMD cpu, should'nt I get a comparable intel cpu to go with that, you know, just so I'll know the difference. Of course that will require a different Motherboard, and with all the choices of Motherboards, I should get one of each, or least in the EU/EC way of thinking I should. See my point ( and I don't really care if you do or not ), the EU/EC is money grubbing by way of imposing fines, and I'll bet a dollar to a doughnut, that is the only goal. They have no right to force a company to provide gateways for competitors. As if Opera can even call itself a competitor, what a joke. And just so you know, I use Ubuntu/Gnome with FireFox, so I am definately not an MS fanboy, but come on EU leave Gates and Co. alone before you lose Windows altogether, because a lot of people count on windows like it or not!
          • "Lack of a way to get a choice".

            If you use Ubuntu, then you know about repositories. Again, How about building in a repository so the user has a choice of browser on initial setup of their computer? Seems like a way to get choice to me.