It's been a week since Microsoft publicly acknowledged its plan to release a browserless version of Windows 7 that would be sold in Europe only, as a way to potentially appease European antitrust regulators.
Since then, I've gotten more than a few reader questions about Windows 7 E -- and have come up with a few of my own -- and have put them to Microsoft for answers. Here are a few more tidbits about what users and developers can expect from that version of Windows 7, slated to be commercially available on October 22. All of these answers were provided to me via a Microsoft spokesperson.
Q: Is Internet Explorer (IE) really completely gone from Windows with Windows 7 E?
A: No. Microsoft has removed the Web access points provided by IE 8. But the Trident rendering engine is still part of the operating system, as is the HTTP stack and other "core" elements upon which other pieces of the operating system have been built. (I don't have a full list of what's in and what's out from an IE perspective. I'm not sure when and if Microsoft plans to make such a list available.) Q: According to Microsoft's official statement on its Web site, Microsoft is claiming applications designed for Windows will run just as well on Win 7 E as on plain old Windows 7. But don't a number of apps, especially custom/business applications, assume IE is "there"? What happens to these knds of apps if IE isn't there?
A: The fact that the HTTP stack, rendering engine and other core pieces are all there. That's what enables everything else to keep on running. You basically just don't have the executable to be browsing the web with IE.
Q: As a software manufacturer, it is critical for our company to continue having CHM (help file) support built in the OS for our technical documentation. Is that guaranteed?"
A: Microsoft will be sharing more technical details for E with partners so that they can test it with their applications, etc. Last week was just when we were notifying partners of our plans so that they could be able to know and prepare on their end. (I asked Microsoft when and how it plans to share these details and was told the timeframe remains to be determined.)
Q: Windows 7 E will be sold at retail and available installed on new PCs in Europe.But what's the deal for volume licensees who aren't necessarily planning to buy Windows 7 through OEMs?
A: Windows 7 E will be the only version of Windows 7 available to volume licensees in Europe. Enterprises usually have their IT departments create a custom image for their organization, where they add their own custom applications on top (business apps, etc.). So they can easily add whatever browser they prefer as part of the roll out that way.
Q: When will European users have a chance to check out a test build of Windows 7 E? Will the final Windows 7 E be released to manufacturing on the same day as regular Windows 7?
A: Still waiting for Microsoft answers to these.... Microsoft isn't yet ready to provide these answers.
What else are you interested in knowing about Windows 7 E?