Windows 7 will launch without browser in EuropeMicrosoft adapts OS due to competition concerns

12 June 2009

windows 7 logo

Microsoft has confirmed that the European version of its upcoming operating system, Windows 7, will ship without its Internet Explorer browser.

The omission is due to concerns that the inclusion of the web browser gives Microsoft an unfair advantage over competitors such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Opera.

In January, the European Commission provided its preliminary view that Microsoft’s 'bundling' of Internet Explorer in Windows violated European competition law.

Microsoft will make Windows 7 available in Europe at the same time as it launches elsewhere but in to a statement on Microsoft’s blog the company says: 'We also must comply with European competition law as we launch the product. 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.'

The statement continues: '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.'

Windows 7 Home Premium E version

Windows 7 will be offered in Europe in the same versions as will be available stateside but with an 'E' at the end of the project name (for instance, Windows 7 Home Premium E).

However, Microsoft says that this solution doesn't preclude alternative solutions to the European Commission's competition concerns, writing on its blog that 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.

Responding to Microsoft’s announcement the European Commission said: 'The European Commission notes with interest Microsoft's announcement of its plans for Windows 7. The Commission will shortly decide in the pending browser tying antitrust case whether or not Microsoft's conduct from 1996 to date has been abusive and, if so, what remedy would be necessary to create genuine consumer choice and address the anticompetitive effects of Microsoft’s long-standing conduct.'

Meanwhile, consumers don't seem to see the inclusion of the IE with the operating system as a barrier to downloading rival browsers. In a press release, Apple claims that 11 million copies of Safari 4 have been downloaded in the first three days of its release, including more than six million downloads of Safari for Windows.

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