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Internet Explorer Stripped From Windows 7 In Europe

Gordon Kelly by

Internet Explorer Stripped From Windows 7 In Europe

Dear Microsoft, this is not really the solution we had in mind...

The Redmond giant has announced it will ship Windows 7 in Europe without Internet Explorer after coming under pressure from the European Commission over anti-competitive browser behaviour. This baby-out-with-the-bathwater move follows court action which began in 2007 off the back of a similar seven year antitrust lawsuit about the bundling of Windows Media Player with Windows.

In a statement today Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Dave Heiner explained: "Microsoft filed its response to the Commission's Statement of Objections in April. We believe we made a strong showing that including Internet Explorer in Windows is lawful so that no remedy is needed. We hope that the Commission will ultimately agree with us."

He continued: "In the meantime, we have to move forward with final planning for the release of Windows 7, so we've decided that instead of including Internet Explorer in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately. As noted, we will continue to discuss browser issues and other matters with the Commission."

Microsoft added that an 'E' will be attached to all Windows 7 versions sold in Europe to signify the change, for example: 'Windows 7 Home Premium E'.

Naturally all this is incredibly daft. The antitrust lawsuit was all about giving customers a clear choice in what browser they use and Microsoft's decision simply makes the lives of PC makers and its own customers far more difficult. After all, how do you choose a browser when you can't get online in the first place? Perhaps not such an issue for tech savvy users with multiple computers but for the masses it could prove a real pain.

So if an effort to collect Microsoft's dummy and stick it firmly back into its mouth let me present two alternative sane solutions to this mess:

1. Bundle the major browsers with Windows 7 and give users a choice of which to install. Over time the versions will get old but it matters little given the inevitable Service Packs that will appear and automatic browser update notifications users will receive. This is hardly fantasyland since Microsoft is accustomed to providing third party drivers with Windows, so why not software?

2. Bundle Internet Explorer but the first time it runs make it load a web page highlighting the other browser options on the market. Since this is a web page the links can be kept up to date with the latest browser versions and market players. The presentation and wording of this page can be set by the European Commission.

Both options should work just fine. Oh and Microsoft, given the millions you waste on a crack legal team to come up with such nonsense as 'Windows 7 E' I'll let you have these little pieces of common sense for free...


Press Release

Go to comments


June 12, 2009, 5:42 pm

If IE is not shipped with Windows 7, how do I get online so I can get Firefox?

Martin Leventon

June 12, 2009, 5:43 pm

I would have thought the best way would be to just not install it by default and have it installed via the componentisation stuff they have announced. Has there been any prices given to europe yet ? I know in the states if you pre-order from best buy the Home Premium upgrade from vista for $55


June 12, 2009, 5:44 pm

I can't comprehend how they came up with this..

Jon Cook

June 12, 2009, 5:49 pm

The entire issue is a childish nonsense; I think it a little unfair to single MS out for this criticism. What they have perfectly highlighted is the ineptly blinkered thinking of the EC as illustrated by Vectorious. I'm no MS fan-boy, but on this subject I'm with them 100%.


June 12, 2009, 5:51 pm

This whole thing is ridiculous. The EU needs to back off and stop trying to tell Microsoft what it can and can't do with it's own products.


June 12, 2009, 5:56 pm

@Vectorious - erm that's the central point I address in the article ;)


June 12, 2009, 6:00 pm

C'mon Vectorious, you'd have to be a complete eejit not to have a browser one way or another.

The *vast* majority of W7 installs will be from OEMs who will have a browser pre-installed.

For the retail version, I would expect PC World/Dabs/whoever to provide/sell you a cheapo USB flash drive with a couple of browsers on it - preferably something like PortableFirefox. If you read this site and didn't have a browser ready for a clean install then, frankly, you shouldn't be on t'interweb.


June 12, 2009, 6:01 pm

I think I can see how this is going to go...

A similar situation was addressed by Vista which was available in "Home Basic N" and "Business N" editions, sans Media Player. There's a good chance many people never heard of these editions, because no sane retailer bothered to actually sell them. The fact that they existed at all was enough to get MS past the anti-trust laws.

I suspect this will go the same way...


June 12, 2009, 6:03 pm

Hold on - isn't Windows Explorer (the bit you use to browse your files and folders in Windows) just Internet Explorer anyway? If I open up My Computer and browse to a folder on the C: drive, I can use the same window to view a web site, by simply typing in the web address into the bar at the top.

You may not have an IE icon, but the shell of it is there anyway as an integral part of the OS. I'm assuming MS won't be stripping that out too? lol.

And why the hell is MS getting this all the time? Safari comes with a Mac and Apple have operated a closed iPod/iTunes loop that would have had MS in court in an instant. Not that I'm a big MS fan, but the Apples and Adobes of the world seem to be slipping under the EU radar recently.


June 12, 2009, 6:08 pm

This does seem like a non issue. Presumably there'll be a shortcut on the desktop to download IE. Failing that, no sane OEM is likely to ship their PC without a browser installed.

Out of curiosity why isn't this an issue for Apple with bundling Safari? Obviously their PC marketshare is miniscbule but in the market for Macs they are a monopoly. Or is this a stupid question?


June 12, 2009, 6:09 pm

"{...} computer manufacturers and users will be free to install Internet Explorer on Windows 7, or not, as they prefer."

Which means that if you get your laptop from Dell/HP/Acer/... then this is a non-issue as the manufacturer will have installed a browser (along with the usual ****load of junk).

This really only affects the 1% of you who do the OS install by yourself, in which case you're probably smart enough to bring along IE/FF/Chrome/Opera on a USB stick.

This is non-issue.


June 12, 2009, 6:14 pm

@Moche - only if IE is installed, which is then integrated into the Windows Explorer shell.

@Ebbesen - perhaps and who is to say someone like Google, who has extensive links with major PC makers, would not negotiate Chrome to be installed ahead of IE instead... ;)


June 12, 2009, 6:17 pm

Quite why this unnecessary piece of legislation by the EU was imposed isn't clear, and I'd suggest they're the real villans of the piece.

Technology changes, and so sho

June 12, 2009, 6:20 pm

I can't believe I'm reading such clueless comments.

The file manager in Windows is a lightweight browser, and should be more than capable of supporting file downloads of browsers.

Microsoft can even include a tool in Control Panel where the user can select which browser they want, or a simple setup procedure when starting Windows for the first time (just like IE8 allows you to set it up so that you can use your preferred search engine and mail client, nto just Microsoft's Bing and Hotmail).

This problem is hardly insurmountable, and it seems like a far more sensible option than the so called 'plenty of choice' Linux brigade who arrogantly assume that you'll be using Firefox and nothing else. Oh you _can_ use something else, but the Best of British to you getting it integrated nicely.


June 12, 2009, 6:39 pm

This whole thing makes no sense to me. Microsoft makes the OS, they should be allowed to bundle their and only their browser on it. If you really want another browser then just download it and use it. What exactly is the issue? This whole thing lacks common sense to me.

@ ravmania "...but in the market for Macs they are a monopoly." Uh, how are they a monopoly again? That is like saying RIM has a monopoly on BB OS, or Palm has a monopoly on Web OS; they make the OS and they can decide who sells it. In this case (Apple) and RIMs' and Palms' they do it on their own hardware.


June 12, 2009, 6:58 pm

Hmm, it seems this issue has morphed over time.

Microsoft were never originally criticised for bundling IE and Windows Media Player (WMP) with Windows, but for making the technology behind IE and WMP *intergral* to windows so that those apps could never be uninstalled. This made it unfair to other app providers, as there was always some sort of presence of IE etc in the background (this used to drive me insane when I tried to use Netscape (yes, a long time ago) and it was constantly having issues with IE components).

This is why Apple are not affected with Safari, as apps on Mac OS are pretty much fully uninstallable (for the most part).

If the Euro Court of Justice etc let this case boil down to a 'bundling' or 'inclusion' issue they are idiots, but I suspect that is just people's perspective of it. Or who knows?


June 12, 2009, 7:04 pm

This a complete non-issue.

Most people buy from OEMs and they will install a browser of some description anyway. If anyone is installing Windows themselves and can't figure out how to install a browser they shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

Microsoft have done what was asked of them (10 years too late admittedly) and do not deserve a slating on this.


June 12, 2009, 7:18 pm

This was the best decision they could have made. I can see how Microsoft wanted to highlight to the EC that it was in favour of competition, but it would hardly break business sense and bundle all the other major browsers as options within it's own software. Why not just ask Apple to advertise media library alternatives to itunes when a consumer purchases an Ipod. It wouldn't happen, unless the other company was paying to be mentioned.

Thus, most people, despite IE8 not being avaliable out the box, will download it from Windows Update as an optional update when shown it by Windows. I don't think The EC can stop Microsoft touting optional updates...can they?


June 12, 2009, 7:21 pm

I agree with Ohmz, Microsoft should be allowed to bundle any piece of software they wish with Windows, as long as they don't prevent/prohibit any other software that competes with their software to be installed and to function properly. Their software should play well with other competing products though. In other words, when I have set Chrome as my default browser, it should not (/never) bring up IE when I open a link. That is still not completely the case, it sometimes still opens IE.

Then comes the fact that MS knows damn well that bundling too much applications with their OS will only make it bloated and does not always bring extra value to the customer.


June 12, 2009, 7:31 pm

I'm sure Microsoft will budge on this but if it doesn't, I think Chrome could be the big winner out of all of this. Why?

Google already has good connections with PC makers. Chrome is really fast, reliable and very simple so it makes the PC's performance look good, it currently isn't targeted by viruses (if/when it is Google is big enough to cope with that), it almost never crashes and confused users with a multitude of options.


June 12, 2009, 7:50 pm

Ah, the blind Google love continues...


June 12, 2009, 7:51 pm

or how about (3) a "micro-browser" whose only function is to connect the user to a page which allows him to choose and download a browser of his choice. Browser publishers (MS, Apple, Mozilla, Opera, Google etc.) would be freely allowed to register their browsers on the dedicated download page, and each would host its own browser for download, so the user would always see the latest versions. Since the micro-browser (realistically it would be based on IE anyway) can *only* be used to download and install a browser of choice, surely that would satisfy the EU, without requiring MS to bundle third party apps on Windows install discs and avoiding the problem of users installing obsolete (and possibly insecure) versions of browsers from the Windows disc.


June 12, 2009, 8:31 pm

Gordon for Prime M- oh wait - that already... hmm.

Andy Vandervell

June 12, 2009, 9:34 pm

@GoldenGuy: No. Just, no! :D

mike 3

June 12, 2009, 9:40 pm

They shouldn't be forced to point their customers else where.

Now what I really want to know is what these EU clowns are doing with all the MS / Intel fine money.

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