Microsoft Corp. plans to remove Internet Explorer browser from the versions of Windows 7 operating system that will be sold in the European Union. The company reportedly said that the move is set to be made in order to remain “compliant” with the laws of the EU. Microsoft reportedly offers PC makers to install Internet Explorer (IE) onto the PCs themselves.
“To ensure that Microsoft is in compliance with European law, Microsoft will be releasing a separate version of Windows 7 for distribution in Europe that will not include Windows Internet Explorer. Microsoft will offer IE8 separately and free of charge and will make it easy and convenient for PC manufacturers to preinstall IE 8 on Windows 7 machines in Europe if they so choose. PC manufacturers may choose to install an alternative browser instead of IE 8, and has always been the case, they may install multiple browsers if they wish,” a memo to PC makers sent by Microsoft reads, claims Cnet News.com web-site.
Microsoft reportedly confirmed the authenticity of the document, but declined to comment further.
Developers of “alternative” browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox or Opera, have been complaining for many years that integration of Internet Explorer into dominant Microsoft Windows operating system also ensures leadership position of the browser. Several courts backed allegations of Mozilla and others against Microsoft.
It is not clear why manufacturers of pocket calculators do not sue Microsoft and cell phone manufacturers for integrating calculator software into their products.
It is interesting to note that Microsoft has always claimed that Internet browser is an integral part of its operating systems and cannot be removed easily. However, the company claims it was virtually forced by preliminary decision of the European Commission, which found that integration of own Internet browser into Windows operating system is against antitrust laws.
“Microsoft will not offer for distribution in the European territory the Windows 7 product versions that contain IE, which are intended for distribution in the rest of the world. This will apply to both OEM and Retail versions of Windows 7 products,” the memory reads.
It is not exactly clear how end-users should download Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox, without an Internet browser available in the operating system during the age of the World Wide Web. But Microsoft claims that the solution should be found with the European Commission.
“Our decision to only offer IE separately from Windows 7 in Europe cannot, of course, preclude the possibility of alternative approaches emerging through Commission processes. Other alternatives have been raised in the Commission proceedings, including possible inclusion in Windows 7 of alternative browsers or a “ballot screen” that would prompt users to choose from a specific set of Web browsers. Important details of these approaches would need to be worked out in coordination with the Commission, since they would have a significant impact on computer manufacturers and Web browser vendors, whose interests may differ. Given the complexity and competing interests, we don’t believe it would be best for us to adopt such an approach unilaterally,” commented Dave Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft.