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Windows 7 Won't Include Explorer In EU

Microsoft is stripping the browser from the OS in an attempt to satisfy market regulators.
Prompted by antitrust concerns, Microsoft said Thursday that it plans to ship a version of its Windows 7 operating system in Europe that does not come bundled with the Internet Explorer Web browser.

Windows 7 screen shot
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"We’re committed to making Windows 7 available in Europe at the same time that it launches in the rest of the world, but we also must comply with European competition law as we launch the product," Dave Heiner, Microsoft's deputy general counsel, wrote in a blog post.

The European Union's competition watchdog, known as the European Commission, earlier this year said Microsoft's bundling of Windows and Explorer violates antitrust rules and stifles competition in the browser market. The EU also has levied more than $1 billion in fines against Microsoft for past antitrust violations.

"Given the pending legal proceeding, we’ve decided that instead of including Internet Explorer in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately and on an easy-to-install basis to both computer manufacturers and users. This means that computer manufacturers and users will be free to install Internet Explorer on Windows 7, or not, as they prefer. Of course, they will also be free, as they are today, to install other Web browsers," Heiner said.

Microsoft will add the letter "E" to versions of Windows 7 that don't include Explorer. For example, Windows 7 Home Premium would be called Windows 7 Home Premium E.

If the majority of European PC makers choose to install Explorer and enable it as the default browser, it could support Microsoft's argument that it's bundling of software products is merely an effort to satisfy consumer demand, and isn't meant to stifle competition.

Microsoft in Europe previously offered a version of Windows, Windows N, that didn't include the Windows Media Player. The version proved extremely unpopular with consumers, Microsoft said.

Heiner said Windows 7 E will be available in 23 European languages and will ship the same time Windows 7 is delivered to the rest of the world -- Oct. 22.