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Microsoft to offer IE8 at retail for EU Windows 7 buyers

What Microsoft takes away, it gives back after the fact

June 15, 2009 12:30 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft will offer European customers an "Internet Pack" that includes IE8 when they buy a retail copy of Windows 7, which will be sold sans browser, the company said late last week.

Although Microsoft announced last week that it will ship Windows 7 minus Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) -- the move was prompted by accusations from antitrust regulators that the company's bundling stifles competition -- it will essentially give retail customers the browser, albeit separately.

"There will be a [Windows 7 ] Internet Pack available to consumers who buy [the full packaged product], a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed, talking about the various upgrade editions that will be sold to XP and Vista users.

The Windows 7 Internet Pack will also include Windows Live Essentials, said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft who was briefed by Microsoft on its plans. "There'll be some sort of display at retail," said Rosoff, who added that retailers would either give away the Pack or charge a nominal fee to cover the cost of the media.

Windows Live Essentials is a pseudo suite that includes the Windows Live Mail desktop e-mail client, Live Messenger, Live Movie Maker and other software from the "Live" line. Many of the programs were bundled with Vista, but Microsoft dumped them from Windows 7; instead, users must download Essentials after the fact.

Microsoft will also make IE8 available to European Windows 7 users via FTP download, the almost-forgotten "file transfer protocol," said the company spokeswoman. "[Those] distribution details are still being worked out," she said.

Even without a browser, Windows 7 users can download software via FTP by using the operating system's file manager. In Windows Explorer, users can set up a new "network location" using a wizard-like tool, then specify an FTP server with the syntax "ftp://ftp.address.com," such as "ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox," where Firefox is located.

No other browser maker has yet said it will offer its software to Windows 7 users via a similar program at retail, or by providing the browser free-of-charge on CD. Mozilla, however, currently sells a Firefox 3.0 CD for $4.59.



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