Windows 7 Will Ship Without Internet Explorer

Microsoft is anticipating great success with its new Windows 7 operating system, but is being wary of any antitrust violations that may occur. The company has already been fined over $2 billion USD by the European Commission for previous infractions, including a record setting $1.4 billion USD fine in February of last year.

Those infractions centered on Microsoft’s inclusion of Windows Media Player in Windows XP. After several costly appeals, the firm relented and shipped “N” versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista in order to comply with the European Commission’s directives.
Earlier this year, the European Commission moved to require Microsoft to package third-party browser software with Windows.  Those rules would also require Microsoft to provide support to make third-party browsers work with Windows components, such as Windows Explorer. Microsoft is currently in litigation to appeal the introduction of those rules.

In order to avoid any potential problems, Microsoft will ship special European versions of all its Windows 7 editions. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 will be available, but will be appended with an “E” at the end of the product name. For example, “Windows 7 Home Premium E” will most likely be the most common edition in Europe.  The “E” versions of Windows 7 will ship on October 22, the same time as Windows 7 ships to the rest of the world. Global language support is extensive, and in Europe alone Windows 7 will be available in 23 European languages.

“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,” wrote Dave Heiner, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Microsoft.

The “E” versions will be sold alongside new Windows 7 “N” versions in Europe, with the only difference being that “N” versions do not include Windows Media Player. “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,” Microsoft said in a memo distributed to its OEM partners. “This will apply to both OEM and Retail versions of Windows 7 products.”

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