Internet Explorer Will Ship With Windows 7 After All

Microsoft’s operations in the European Union have always been rocky and have already twice been punctuated with hefty regulatory fines. In a 2004 anti-trust ruling, the EU fined Microsoft  497 million euros (794 million dollars) and asked the software giant to remove multimedia software in copies of Windows XP that were to be sold in Europe. The reason given for the order was that Microsoft was stifling competition in the software market by not fully disclosing how non-Microsoft software could interact with Windows. In 2008, the EU meted its biggest fine ever. Microsoft was levied 899 million euros (1.3 billion dollars) for not complying fully with the conditions that the EU set forth in the 2004 ruling.

It is in this regulatory context that Microsoft earlier announced in June 2009 that copies of its latest operating system, Windows 7, will not contain the web browsing software Internet Explorer. The browserless European version of the OS will be named Windows 7 E. It was believed that by bundling Explorer together with Windows, Microsoft will be unfairly excluding competitors from the web browser market.

Moving forward to the present, Microsoft decided that Windows 7 will now ship with Internet Explorer worldwide – Europe included.

Dave Heiner, Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel explained that concerns raised by computer manufacturers and potential end-user confusion were the main factors in the decision to sell the same version of Windows 7 worldwide. Furthermore, the European Commission believed that consumers have a right to choose what web browser to use but not in a Windows version without a built-in browser.

As an affirmation to the right to choose web browsers, a “browser ballot screen” will be presented to the user the first time Windows 7 is connected to the internet. This will most likely happen when Internet Explorer has been set as the default web browser. The ballot screen is supposed to make it clear that there are other web browser choices available in the internet. This move is targeted mostly to novice computer users and it offers links to where one can download other browsers.

Microsoft believes that the ballot screen is essentially one way of promoting the products of rival companies, which was a difficult decision to make. Microsoft has been looking forward to being a more dominant player on the web. Recent developments like a partnership with Yahoo and a toehold into cloud computing with Office 2010 explains why Microsoft is happy with the ballot screen solution. Windows 7 with Internet Explorer will ship soon worldwide. Internet Explorer is still the most dominant browser and Microsoft is gaining more time in the battle for web dominance as they prepare IE for the cloud computing future.

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