One item buried in Microsoft's announcement on June 25 about its retail pricing plans for Windows 7 is how it intends to deal with Windows 7 E, the one and only version of Windows 7 it plans to sell in Europe.
Windows 7 E is Windows 7 without Internet Explorer 8 -- or any other browser -- preinstalled. The company is intending to release Windows 7 E in Europe in the hopes of potentially heading off the worst of the remedies expected to be imposed by European Commission authorities who have yet to issue their final rulings in the Opera browser-bundling antitrust case against Microsoft.
As my blogging colleague Ed Bott notes, it's a case of good news and bad news for users in Europe. The good: European customers will be able to buy a full retail version of Windows 7 E at the same price as the usually cheaper upgrade version, at least for the rest of this year. (The fine print: "Upgrade price available for full editions of retail packaged product until at least Dec. 31, 2009.") The bad: There will be no upgrade version for Windows 7 E users, and they will have to do a clean install in order to put Windows 7 E on their systems.
The reasoning for no Windows 7 E upgrade seems to be that there isn't an equivalent version of Vista -- with Internet Explorer removed -- from which European users could/should upgrade.
In the EU, Windows 7 E Home Premium will be available for four percent less than Vista Home Premium (€119.99 vs. €125.00). Windows 7 E Professional will cost the same as Vista Professional (€285.00) and Ultimate, the same as Vista Ultimate (€299). After December 31, the full packaged prices might increase, according to information from Microsoft. Win 7 E Home Premium will stay at €119.99, but Professional could go to €309.00 and Ultimate to €319.00 (which are listed as the official "full" retail prices on Microsoft's fact sheet.
Last I heard, Microsoft still hasn't released a test version of Windows 7 E to users in Europe and hasn't committed as to whether it will release to manufacturing the Windows 7 E version of the product at the same time as it does the "regular" Windows 7 product. Microsoft has said it plans to make Windows 7 E generally available on October 22, the same day as it will become widely available in the U.S. and other countries.