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Update: Microsoft to sell Windows 7 in Europe without browser

By Nancy Gohring
June 11, 2009 02:15 PM ET

IDG News Service - Windows 7 will ship without Internet Explorer in Europe, in an effort by Microsoft Corp. to offer the product on time and without running afoul of competitive regulations in Europe, the company said.

Microsoft today confirmed a CNET story quoting from a memo that the software maker sent this week to PC makers.

The move stems from a complaint that Web browser developer Opera filed with the European Commission last year saying that Microsoft gets an unfair advantage by tying IE with Windows. Mozilla has joined Opera in the suit. By shipping Windows 7 without the browser, Microsoft may avoid potential requirements to delay shipment or other sanctions.

"We're committed to launching Windows 7 on time in Europe, so we need to address the legal realities in Europe, including the risk of large fines," Dave Heiner, deputy general counsel at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post today.

PC makers and distributors will be able to add any browser to the Windows 7 machines and Microsoft said it plans to make it easy for them to do so.

While the company believes that most people will buy Windows 7 as part of a new computer, some will surely buy the software in order to upgrade an existing machine. "They will be able to add the browser of their choice via CD distribution, FTP installation, retail distribution or other means," a Microsoft spokesman said.

In addition, Microsoft plans to ship the Windows 7 Internet Pack, a free DVD that will include Internet Explorer 8 for Windows 7 and Windows Live Essentials. The DVD will be available via retail, FTP and other channels, the spokesman said.

Even though Microsoft says it will make it easy for PC makers and users to get IE, a version of Windows minus IE is a good opening for competitors to try to persuade PC makers to put their browsers on computers. Google Inc., for example, could use this as an opportunity to try to get its Chrome browser to a substantially larger user base, especially in Europe where Google's search share is even bigger than it is in the U.S., said Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft.

"If they can spend however many billion or million to get every PC in Europe to go out with Chrome as the exclusive browser, suddenly people will use Chrome a lot more," he said.

Microsoft warned that this move does not necessarily spell the end of the commission's investigation. "Our decision to only offer IE separately from Windows 7 in Europe cannot, of course, preclude the possibility of alternative approaches emerging through Commission processes," Heiner wrote.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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