Network adminstrators around Europe are loading their weapons, stockpiling painkillers, knotting their ropes and sharpening their blades at the prospect of Windows 7 E. Meanwhile, novice consumers are baffled and confused as to how they will get a browser installed on their computer.
For those who are unaware of the antitrust battle which Microsoft and the European regulators have been locked in horns over these last few years: The EU thinks Microsoft aren't being fair by including Internet Explorer, their own web browser, in with their own operating system, pushing out the competition such as Mozilla's Firefox browser, Apple's Safari browser, and Google's newcomer browser, Chrome.
ZDNet's sister site, ZDNet.co.uk, reported this when the news broke that Microsoft would be following the orders of the EU:
"To ensure that Microsoft is in compliance with European law, Microsoft will be releasing a separate version of Windows 7 for distribution in Europe that will not include Windows Internet Explorer.
Microsoft will offer IE8 separately and free of charge and will make it easy and convenient for PC manufacturers to pre-install IE8 on Windows 7 machines in Europe if they so choose. PC manufacturers may choose to install an alternative browser instead of IE8, and has always been the case, they may install multiple browsers if they wish."
This Windows 7 version, the only version available in the European Union, comes with all the core functionality that Internet Explorer has, simply with the iexplore.exe application missing. This not only means end users of Windows 7 will not be able to immediately browse the web, but network administrators will be forced to potentially sit down at every workstation and install a browser.
What is the point in having the Internet to browse if you have no way of using it? Email. And that is what BlackBerry's are for. Faced with a world with email alone is putting pressure on the EU for demanding such a ridiculous compromise on Microsoft's part.
Mary Jo Foley, across the pond but only a blog away, took the words right out of my mouth. Talking about the EU-only version of the upcoming operating system, there will be:
"No IE 8. No Firefox, no Chrome, no Opera. It will be up to PC makers to preload a browser with Windows 7, if they decide to do so, or up to users to go through some convoluted process to download a browser from a PC with no apparent way to connect to the Web."
For many, popping downstairs, downloading a browser and copying the setup installer onto the network or a flash drive, is the easy solution. But for those who have access to one computer, and one computer alone, without the help of OEM's which are under no obligation to support the end user in this way, a lot of people could get horribly stuck.
Microsoft, in its headstrongness, thinks that having no browser installed by default is better than having the option to choose a web browser from the initial out-of-box-experience (OOBE). Even with my appalling knowledge of C# and developing, I created a simple application which downloads the setup file of the browse you choose:
Rafael Rivera of WithinWindows.com fame came up with another solution by using Windows Media Player, pre-installed with Windows 7 E, to download a browser. When I tried it, albeit a normal version of Windows 7 without Internet Explorer, it didn't work for me. Then again, it might have helped had I removed Firefox from my computer. Nevertheless, I am wary of this solution simply because when trying to find an advertisement for a browser, all I got were media files in the search results.
Even though I am indifferent to this edition - Microsoft deliberately tried to dominate the market with their browser, and the EU has caused more trouble than worth by kicking sand in Microsoft's eyes and not realising the fallout of having no web browser installed by default. As far as I can tell, which browser you use doesn't make the blindest bit of difference, except for the fact that the company which has the most users can say, "we have the most users". There is little or no monetary gain, which is why Mozilla Foundation maintains itself as a non-profit organisation.
Even the fuss of having an operating system with no initial access to the web doesn't alter the price (except for pre-orders). You would at least hope we would get a $10 discount for the troubles, wouldn't you?
Quite simply, this journalist thinks it is the end user who really suffers. Even though the end user ulitmately uses the browser of their choice, the pig-swill that users and network administrators will have to wade through to get a browser installed without help or mere direction seems petulant on the part of the EU.