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Thursday, 05 March 2009 14:30

Microsoft turns over new leaf, allows IE8 to be removed from Win 7

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The king of forced software bundling, Microsoft, is all of a sudden acting like a reformed citizen, enabling users to remove Internet Explorer 8 from the latest build of Windows 7 Beta. The build includes a dialogue box that easily enables users to enable and disable functions by ticking and unticking check boxes.

A box called Windows Features allows users to select whether they want a host of software features integrated with their operating including games, media features, IE8 and others.

This functionality certainly isn't included in my earlier build of Windows 7 I have running on my netbook.

According to bloggers who have tried Windows 7 Beta build 7048, the removal also requires two reboots and an additional configuration of the system before it is completed. What's more, the removal is apparently just an erasing of the IE8 executable file rather than a complete program uninstall.

Since Microsoft claims that most of the programs it bundles with Windows versions like IE8 are vertically integrated with the operating system, claims that a completely clean removal of IE8 are sort of plausible.

Then again, the ease with which other popular browsers, such as Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera can be installed and completely uninstalled without problems, begs the question as to why Microsoft would bother to so tightly integrate its own browser in the first place. It would be hard to claim, for instance that IE8 has superior functionality or performance than say Firefox 3.

The answer to Microsoft action is that the company is accutely aware of the opposition it has faced in the past from EU anti-competition regulators, in particular the European Commission. Even for Microsoft, billions of dollars in fines and the overheads involved with continually being ordered to modify its products to comply with local laws is an impost the software company can no longer afford.

It is interesting that the move to enable partial unbundling of IE8 from Windows 7 comes as news is breaking that relations between Microsoft and the EU regulators are on the improve, with the EU indicating that intends to relax its previously eagle eye scrutiny of the software giant's activities.

Some screen shots of the IE8 removal facility can be viewed here.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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