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Windows 7 to Be Modular & IE Optional

Gordon Kelly


Windows 7 to Be Modular & IE Optional

There have long been calls for Microsoft to cut the bulk from its Windows operating systems to make for faster installation and more nimble operation and at last Microsoft has complied... to an extent.

Posting on its MSDN blog, Microsoft group programme manager Jack Mayo has revealed Windows 7 will come with a simple new option known as 'Turning Windows Features On or Off'. A similar feature was available in previous generations but this will extend beyond the basics to include the likes of:

  • 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)
"We want to provide choice while also making sure we do not compromise on compatibility by removing APIs provided for developers," explained Mayo. "We also want to strike the right balance for consumers in providing choice and balancing compatibility with applications and providing a consistent Windows experience."

Sadly however Microsoft hasn't quite taken this feature as far as many (including ourselves) would like. Addressing the central issue Mayo admitted:

"Finally, we know some have suggested that this set of choices be a 'setup option'. Some operating systems do provide this type of setup experience. As we balanced feedback, the vast majority of feedback we have received was to streamline setup and to reduce the amount of potential complexity in getting a PC running. We chose to focus this feature on the post-setup experience for Windows 7."

Personally I don't see how a single option for 'simple' or 'advanced' setup would have complicated things in anyway but at least it is there after installation.

So what would Microsoft motivations be for such a seemingly hostile move against its own software components? I'd suggest a little something called the European Commission and the nine year antitrust battle the two fought. Of course with most PC users being technological Neanderthals in any case, that also explains why this feature is only available post install: it doesn't advertise its presence and most then won't have the tech savvy to realise it exists at all.

Sneaky Microsoft, but for the rest of us it's time for Uninstallarama!


MSDN Blog Post


March 9, 2009, 7:30 pm

Pardon my ignorance, but does turning off these programs have any significant benefit to performance?

And if I turned off Internet Explorer 8, would IE Tab in Firefox still work?

Tim 4

March 9, 2009, 7:57 pm

I too, am not quite clear about this. Turning something off is not the same as uninstalling it. Which is it?


March 9, 2009, 8:10 pm

I can only think that the reason they can't make this a feature of the set up is that, as just about everyone has found if they do anything 'under the hood' of any version of windows, if you remove (or don't install) one seemingly innocuous .dll, the whole system comes crashing down, or becomes even more unstable than before. Maybe they should code-name windows 7 'dominoes'...


March 9, 2009, 9:19 pm


The domino effect applies to ALL operating systems, the effects are much worse on systems I cannot be bothered to promote. From personal experience DLL hell is rare thing these days due to increased knowledge and the "neanderthal" has evolved. You would not perform an oil change without knowing where your dipstick is located would you.

Martin Daler

March 9, 2009, 9:26 pm

but surely IE is a must-have feature? How else to download Firefox?


March 9, 2009, 9:33 pm

You know, that's the first thing I thought, Martin.


March 9, 2009, 9:48 pm

"but surely IE is a must-have feature? How else to download Firefox?"

Like this:

Go to Calculator - then Help - Help Topics - Then left right click on the blue surround at the top of the container box, then click "Jump to URL..." then in the second box put your http:// address, this for firefox:


Or indeed any other address! It's a good way of getting around some work restricted websites, as long as your administrator is lazy...

Enjoy :)

Andy Vandervell

March 9, 2009, 9:53 pm


Crafty. I like. :D


March 9, 2009, 10:16 pm

Sadly you can't do that in Vista/Win7 :)


March 9, 2009, 10:28 pm

Now lets see:

1. Install Windows 7

2. Remove all the bloat.

What do we have left? - WINDOWS XP



March 9, 2009, 10:35 pm

@Bytes...I didn't know that. Then again, I plan to stick with XP pro until it's prized from my dead, cold hands :)


March 9, 2009, 11:43 pm

The idea is you can rid yourself off the software eating into resources but if you ever wanted it its there without a reinstall :)


March 10, 2009, 1:48 am


love it! can imagine everyone who didn't know that trying it in the office tomorrow.

seriously though. if someone is too thich to use a feature why is that Microsoft's fault. all you have to do it type "Programs" in the Start menu search to find where to uninstall things. not exactly rocket science.

i totally agree that this stuff is removable but surely a browser of some sort is required. as mentioned above, if only just to download Firefox.


March 10, 2009, 2:43 am

Poor Microsoft, we're all just like Archie Andrews. We use Betty to get to Veronica!


March 10, 2009, 3:27 pm

"Sneaky Microsoft" = that's exactly i wanted to say too. So hard for MS to abandon its spyware arsenal, so very hard...


March 10, 2009, 3:49 pm

Hurrah! Only took them ten years to re-implement a feature all their previous OSs had since the 80s...


March 12, 2009, 8:47 pm

We've had this for years, it's called 'deleting the shortcut'. If the API's are still accessible then most of the program code (and bugs) are still there and can be called from other programs, it's just the interface that's been removed. For example lifethroughalens's hack using help is actually because the help system uses the same Trident rendering engine that internet explorer does so if you removed IE completely you'd break all the help files in that format (and all the other applications of it).

This isn't a particulaly bad thing, having a single built in component to do one thing with only a few versions means much less in the way of compatibility problems and any program that wants more features can include it's own code or component with it.

Whether the browser called IE shows up is something for those who care to decide, although any verdict should be enforced equally; If Windows has to remove IE then OS X can't come with Safari and Linux can't come with Konquerer/Opera/Firefox.

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