On 22 October, as consumers living in Europe head to the shops to pick up the new Windows 7 operating system (OS), they may notice that it will be labelled as Windows 7 Home Premium E. The ‘E’ makes all the difference.
That ‘E’ means ‘European Union’, where Microsoft has been subject to an anti-trust investigation, which suggested the company engaged in anti-competitive behavior when it bundled its own Internet Explorer (IE) web browser with the Windows OS, and in doing so violated European competition law.
As this preliminary EU view was published in January 2009, in order to comply with legal proceedings, Microsoft said it will simply have to provide Europe with copies of Windows 7 containing no web browser, in order to release on the same date worldwide.
“Given the pending legal proceeding, we’ve decided that instead of including IE in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately and on an easy-to-install basis to both computer manufacturers and users,” said Dave Heiner, vice-president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft’s legal team, on Microsoft’s legal and policy issues blog.
“This means that computer manufacturers and users will be free to install IE on Windows 7, or not, as they prefer. Of course, they will also be free, as they are today, to install other web browsers.”
Heiner went on to state that the reason for doing this is because doing otherwise and putting IE on Windows 7 would run the risk of large fines.
However, he did say that depending on the European Commission ruling, IE may be included in a future release, perhaps by giving the user the option of choosing from several web browsers from within the OS.
By Marie Boran
Pictured: new desktop background for Windows 7