Why the recent builds of Windows 7 have option to turn “On” or “Off” IE?

It's apparent that Microsoft is presently not in mood to further annoy the European regulators over its Web browser. Well, Microsoft is already having the European Commission's antitrust case going on against it, and surely, it does not want to mar the crucial launch of its next version of Windows.

Windows 7, the Vista successor and next version of Windows, will likely be released for consumers next year, but its beta versions are already available for testers, and what testers have noticed is that Windows 7 has a feature to "turn off" the Internet Explorer 8 Web browser.

Testers have found that the recent builds of Windows 7 offers an option to turn on or off Internet Explorer through a "Windows Features" dialog box. However, IE8 is not listed among the Windows 7 Release Candidate's features that can be turned on and off.

Earlier this week, some tech blogs reported that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 may not show up in the latest version of Windows 7, build 7048. Bryant Zadegan, chief editor of Microsoft blog AeroXperience, reported that IE8 was part of Windows 7 Beta 1, but it may not be present in the Windows 7 Release Candidate, expected to arrive in April.

In 2007, Microsoft lost its first long-running case with EU antitrust regulators; the case was over Microsoft's practice of tying its media player software into the Windows OS. In the recent antitrust suit, Microsoft is accused of tying its Internet Explorer web browser with Windows operating systems; the case was filed by Microsoft's Norwegian competitor Opera. Recently, Mozilla and Google have jumped into the case to provide more evidences against Microsoft.

In this situation, Microsoft had no other option left, but to remove its Internet Explorer web browser from next version of Windows. By introducing the option to turn on or off Internet Explorer in the recent builds of Windows 7 betas, Microsoft is looking to appease the European regulators.

Michael Cherry, an analyst for the research group Directions on Microsoft says that Microsoft direly needs a hit, after Windows Vista's dull performance. Cherry says he does not see much use for the Internet Explorer check box beyond appeasing the European regulators. However, Microsoft hasn't officially offered any comment on the issue yet.