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Microsoft u-turn over Windows 7 ‘E’ version

Now European consumers will get worldwide release

Microsoft Windows logo

Microsoft has performed a u-turn over plans to release a special European version of Windows 7, called Windows E, which would have shipped without its Internet Explorer web browser.

The company now says that European users will receive ‘the same version of Windows 7 in Europe in October that we will ship in the rest of the world,’ said vice president and deputy general counsel, Dave Heiner, writing in a Microsoft blog post.

Instead Microsoft now seems to favour a more recent proposal to ship Windows with a ballot-screen, which would offer users the chance to install one of a number of web browsers. ‘We believe this approach addresses the Commission’s previously stated competition law concerns regarding our inclusion of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) browser in Windows,’ says Microsoft’s post online. 

Consumer confusion over Windows

Microsoft’s change of heart stems, in part, from manufacturers’ concerns about the complexity of changing from Windows 7 E to a ballot screen if the company’s proposals are ultimately accepted by the EU. Manufacturers also expressed concerns that to ship a version of Windows 7 without IE only to replace it later may confuse consumers. 

However, customers may already be confused as both the UK website of Amazon and Microsoft’s own European store were still selling ‘e’ versions of Windows 7 on August 3, 2009. 

‘There are still several steps ahead in the Commission’s review of our proposal and that we are not done… If the ballot screen proposal is not accepted for some reason, then we will have to consider alternative paths, including the reintroduction of a Windows 7 E version in Europe,’ says the company.

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