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Microsoft Drops Windows 7 E Editions 423

Posted by kdawson
from the gets-no-bread-with-one-meatball dept.
A week after Microsoft agreed to include a browser ballot screen in Windows 7 systems sold in Europe, then announced that those systems would initially include no browser at all — specifically, no Internet Explorer — Microsoft has changed its mind again and dropped talk of a European Windows 7 E edition. Here is the official Microsoft blog announcement, which includes a screen shot of the proposed ballot screen. The browsers are listed left-to-right in order of market share, with IE therefore having pride of place. PC Pro notes that, since the ballot screen would not appear if IE were not pre-installed, Microsoft's proposal opens the door for Google to work with PC manufacturers to get Chrome on new machines. Note that the browser ballot screen has not yet been accepted by the EU, though the initial reaction to it was welcoming.
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Microsoft Drops Windows 7 E Editions

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  • Wait, what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:50PM (#28919253)

    The ballot screen would not appear if IE were not installed.

    Doesn't that kinda kill the point of the whole project?

    • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:56PM (#28919311) Journal

      It seems to me that this enables manufacturer to choose:

      1) Install "IE", which by default asks user which browser to install
      2) Install another browser by default
      3) Dont install any browser at all (the Windows 7 E route)

      What makes me wonder tho, is the IE removed after installing another browser?

      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by xlsior (524145) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:40PM (#28919645) Homepage
        What makes me wonder tho, is the IE removed after installing another browser?

        They've said (when announcing the 'E' versions) that it would not come with the browser front-end, but that the back-end rendering engine would still be there since so many other applications depend on it. So I guess it's more hidden than actually removed.
      • by Krneki (1192201)

        What makes me wonder tho, is the IE removed after installing another browser?

        And drop the support for 50% of the Viruses? Never! :)

        *Most of the viruses use IE to work.

      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ilgaz (86384) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @05:26PM (#28920071) Homepage

        Which heroic OEM will dare to exclude IE from their Windows? Don't state some unknown brands please. I speak about HP, Lenovo, Dell sized OEMs.

        There is no way an OEM will dare to exclude Microsoft's browser and drive them nuts.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cobrachaos (1610589)
        Actually IE has been flashed into a ROM embedded on all systems distributed with windows. Resistance is futile.
    • by Qubit (100461)

      The ballot screen would not appear if IE were not installed.

      Doesn't that kinda kill the point of the whole project?

      Presumably if IE is not installed, then the computer manufacturer would put a different browser in its place and the end user would never see the ballot screen.

      This would only lead to problems if one of the non-IE browsers suddenly captured 90%+ of the market share and also used this position to break compatibility, force use of proprietary, patented protocols and formats, and basically f*ck everyone else over. I don't expect Google, Opera, or Mozilla to do this, so it's not really an issue.

  • Better way to go (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:51PM (#28919263) Journal

    This does look like a good way to go, and its good they also list the main features of every browser. This way more users also get to see how good Opera is too. However to make the list completely unbiased, they could randomize the order on every page load.

    Seeing it uses IE to download the browser you want, have they made it so that IE gets removed after that too?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Brian Gordon (987471)

      they could randomize the order

      Realistically, people aren't going to react well seeing a wall of unfamiliar names and being asked to make an informed choice. Most people just want to know what everyone else is using and then they'll pick one of those. We don't want users confused over some random browser they don't understand; that would be worse than making everyone use IE. The point is letting the users choose, not a mass exodus from IE.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        It wouldn't matter. Some MS only application not owned by MS but that works with them regularly would end up saying they only support IE and offer a button to fix the problem. It'ts not like this will level any playing field or anything. It would just be a matter of time until they were forced back onto IE for some obscure stretch of a reason.

      • by Winckle (870180) <mark@@@winckle...co...uk> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @06:37PM (#28920581) Homepage

        Realistically, people aren't going to react well seeing a wall of unfamiliar names and being asked to make an informed choice.

        Why not? They do it every election year.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Machtyn (759119)
        This is true, but there are blurbs underneath each choice. Granted, they claim IE is the fastest and safest web browsing experience, while firefox's blurb touts making the web experience better. I would argue that I've not had to worry about the crap on the internet since I've started using firefox (plus a couple of add-ons which IE does not have).
    • "This way more users get to see how good $fanboysbrowserofchoice is too."

    • computer manufacturers are free to install any browser and set any browser to be the default when building Windows-based PCs [...] If IE is the default browser, the user will be presented with a list of other leading browsers

      So if Dell were to decide that Google Chrome should be the default browser, then you will never see that the ballot list. They wouldn't get to see 'how good Opera is' at all.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        That would be the gist of it or how it should be. However, that decision wouldn't stop you from downloading your own browsers and installing them at your own choice.

        • "that decision wouldn't stop you from downloading your own browsers and installing them at your own choice"
          Nor does IE being on there by default on most current systems.

          I thought the idea was to give consumers a more glaringly obvious choice of browser? I realize it's by the letter of the EU's complaints directed towards Microsoft specifically, but I can't help but feel this decision to only have a ballot if IE is the default is a bit odd.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Randomized order? Way to make things more inconvenient for people, as they'd have to find the one they wanted on different installs.

      Sorry, but this is enough of a burden, making it even worse in some cockeyed harebrained scheme of being fair isn't going to appeal to me.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @07:44PM (#28921001)

      Being a computer support professional, I do a LOT of Windows installs. One of the things that makes it quicker/easier is that you know what to expect where. So you can quickly click past setup screens. In the case of this screen, I want it in a set order. That way, I can quickly find the browser I want to set as default on that particular system. If it got randomized, it would slow things down and/or cause mistakes.

      The order doesn't really matter, so long as there is one. This is actually a fairly intelligent way of doing it: The larger the market share of a browser, the more probable it is that someone will want to use that browser as their default.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:52PM (#28919275)

    That joke has long past its expiration date; Bill Gates isn't at Microsoft anymore (on a regular basis), the Borg is from a tv show that ended over 15 years ago.

    It's like using the Edsel to represent Ford, its just old and stale. time for slashdot to get with the times.

  • by chrb (1083577) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:54PM (#28919283)

    Or Konqueror?

    Bah.

  • Obsolete (Score:4, Interesting)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @03:56PM (#28919315) Journal
    I'm no lover of MS, but this business of them being in trouble for bundling the browser made sense back when Netscape cost $50 and there were no real choices for the layman. Nowadays it's really a non-issue. After all, anyone who cares is free to download any number of free browsers. When "free as in beer" is the default price of a web browser, how is MS giving theirs away anti-competitive?
    • Re:Obsolete (Score:5, Insightful)

      by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:00PM (#28919341) Homepage Journal
      The most important thing is being able to remove the browser(and I mean really remove it) so it doesn't have it's hooks so deep in the OS that its impossible to get out. If they would just allow users to do that, then I think they should be able to ship whatever browser(s) they want with the system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dgatwood (11270)

        That's not really feasible for lots of reasons, starting with the fact that thousands of apps use the IE rendering engine for displaying help content and other web content. It isn't possible to remove the engine without breaking all of those apps, and it isn't feasible to expect other browsers to conform to a programming API sufficiently to make it feasible for multiple engines to be supported for those purposes. You can certainly make it possible to remove the browser, but that basically means removing a

        • Re:Obsolete (Score:5, Insightful)

          by RedK (112790) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:11PM (#28919417)
          It's far from pointless. People don't browse the web using a rendering engine, they use a browser. An HTML rendering engine is useless on its own. People need a way to tell the rendering engine what pages to load and render and a way to store caches, cookies, etc.. Leave the rendering engine on the system for help files, display in other apps, etc... that doesn't matter at all. As long as people are free to choose what they browse the web with, you remove Microsoft's dominance over web technologies and web evolution and that is the true goal.
          • by gparent (1242548)
            I guess you can be glad it's already been done, then? The grand parent has probably never heard of Windows 7, let alone tried it.
        • Re:Obsolete (Score:4, Informative)

          by mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:47PM (#28919717)
          MSHTML is a COM component. It is clearly non-trivial, but not impossible, for someone to wrapping another rendering engine with the same COM interface and substituting it in. I seem to remember there was an effort for gecko a while back for the windows platform, but either way, WINE uses gecko for apps that request access to MSHTML so it is clearly possible.
    • Re:Obsolete (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RedK (112790) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:06PM (#28919375)
      The cost of the browser is not the issue, the control over what technologies get used on the Web is. Microsoft have proven that they don't want to play fair, by ignoring standards for so long and promoting their proprietary stuff. If Microsoft were to have a really poor market share, they'd have to write all their stuff for the open web, respecting standards so that everything works for every user. If they have 90% of all users on their platform, they can make sure that the other 10% are stuck trying to be compatible. This is basically what IE6 was and what IE represents. Their browser might be free as in beer to the user, but the indirect costs are enormous.
      • by heffrey (229704)

        Well, if people don't like it they can always install something else. Nobody forces you to buy Windows or use a Mac. People do it because they choose to.

        • While I agree with you. The EU apparently does not. They want to tell private businesses specifically how they can present products to a customer. This is just typical politicians and bureaucrats sticking their fingers into everything for the thrill of power.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by RedK (112790)
          Only a Microsoft shill or troll would believe that people actually choose Windows. Windows as been imposed on the whole population through vendor lock-in and monopoly abuse. This has been tried and proven twice already. Microsoft today doesn't need its tactics of old to get Windows on all computers, they just have to prevent user education. This is as worse as when they would threaten OEMs to ship Windows and only Windows or have their right to even ship Windows be revoked.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's anti-competitive because Opera has bitched to the EU that if only people knew about Opera, they would use it instead of Internet Explorer. Because no one knows that there is an alternative to Internet Explorer .... Or to Firefox.... Or to Safari.... Or to Chrome. Nope, if only people knew of the wonderful world of Opera. Why, they could go back to selling it instead of being forced to give it away!

    • by pwizard2 (920421)

      After all, anyone who cares is free to download any number of free browsers. When "free as in beer" is the default price of a web browser, how is MS giving theirs away anti-competitive?

      Most people that still use IE probably do it because they don't know any better. Although IE has gotten a lot better with the past two releases (IE6 was a joke, as we all know) it still isn't fair when Microsoft is able to give their own browser preferential treatment over the others by having it be the only one installed

    • Re:Obsolete (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sammyF70 (1154563) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:17PM (#28919477) Homepage Journal

      You assume most people actually KNOW there are free browsers (or even that they know what an "internet browser" is). That's sadly as far removed from reality as it can be.

      Most people don't even know what Internet Explorer *IS*, for them, the IE icon means that they load up the internet (no... they don't connect. why would they connect? it's in .. aeh .. the thing under the table ... the harddrive!). If you tell them "you should use chrome, it's faster" or "you should use Firefox, it can do more stuff" or even "you should use anything but IE, as IE is a PoS" they'll look at you with big glassy eye and answer "but .. but ... I need Ze Internet!".

      That's why having the ballot screen is a good thing : it tells the unknowing masses that there are alternatives. Now ... if we could have something similar for the bundled 30-days trials of MS Office and Norton ... (my wish would actually be that those wouldn't be bundled at all ... but that's probably completely unrealistic.)

  • by PrimaryConsult (1546585) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:01PM (#28919347)
    The logistics of separating out the IE browser from the rest of the OS must have been more daunting than anticipated. I do wish the "ballot screen" idea would be used in places outside the EU, as well...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jpmorgan (517966)
      No, when they went to the EU and said 'we're going to ship a browser free version of Windows and let the OEMs install whatever they want' the EU said 'that's not good enough.' Because, see, if they did that the OEMs would just install IE and Firefox and be done with it. This isn't about getting Microsoft's claws off the browser business, it's about improving Opera's desktop market share, by hook or by crook.
  • What about... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by s0litaire (1205168) * on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:04PM (#28919363)
    ...All those that have pre-ordered Win7e or Win7n versions?

    Are those orders canceled since the product no longer exists, or will they get the Full (non-upgrade) Win7 version instead?

  • Microsoft had announced that they had an RTM version, and now they make such a profound change. This is really odd. Is there any good explanation? Have they a separate, decoupled RTM process for the European versions? Has there never been a "Windows 7 E"?

    And how much would it cost to get something adware-infested into the browser selection screen?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MathiasRav (1210872)

      And how much would it cost to get something adware-infested into the browser selection screen?

      Well, since the list is ordered by market share, you would probably have to get enough users to use your "browser" to get past Opera in terms of market share.

      On second thought, that sounds very doable...

    • by jpmorgan (517966)
      Well, Opera's market capitalization is $634M, so about $300M to buy a controlling stake. Then you could add all the malware to it you want and the EU'll make sure you're on the browser ballot.
    • They announced the RTM of the the English version only. The EU version was supposed to be a different version that doesn't fall under "English". You can see this pattern if you look at MSDN, thier special EU editions are marked with (EU), just like the other language editions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JohnBailey (1092697)

      Microsoft had announced that they had an RTM version, and now they make such a profound change. This is really odd. Is there any good explanation? Have they a separate, decoupled RTM process for the European versions? Has there never been a "Windows 7 E"? And how much would it cost to get something adware-infested into the browser selection screen?

      What profound change? A single change to the set of pre installed apps that the installer checks, a simple chooser screen set to autorun and that is it. It's about as profound as changing the default wallpaper.

  • In Germany... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by antikristian (856519)
    Will firefox get the prime position?
  • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:34PM (#28919597)
    Well Apple's little update-jacking fiasco seems to have paid off. The screenshot [microsoftontheissues.com] shows that Safari is the third most popular Windows browser, in front of Chrome and Opera. I don't have any problem with Safari (fast, small, standards compliant) but I wonder if this is all an Apple plan... and they seriously need to just use Windows widgets and styles instead of imposing their Cocoa look on the windows environment..
    • by theurge14 (820596)

      Have you used Safari for Windows lately?

    • by jpmorgan (517966)
      Safari does have a substantial amount of usage, but I would presume the vast majority of that comes from Mac users. I don't actually know of anybody who uses Safari on Windows as their regular browser. But the rule the EU wants them to implement isn't 'marketshare on Windows,' it's top 5 overall marketshare.
      • by SBrach (1073190)
        Apple should stop offering a windows version of safari, Microsoft would be fucked.
  • by yoshi_mon (172895) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @04:36PM (#28919613)

    I can't see the MS blog page, it's /.ed, but from the summary I felt that this solution seems to imply that browsers are mutually exclusive?

    I'd hope that MS would not even go that far but you can never rule anything out with them.

  • It doesn't matter (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It doesn't matter which browser is installed from the install disk. Most users don't install from the install disk anyway. What matters is which browsers the OEMs will put on the machine, and which they will make the default. Even if Microsoft made an IE-free version of windows Dell and HP and everyone else would still install IE on the machines before selling it to customers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Spad (470073)
      I believe the intent is for it to be part of the "OOBE" that the user gets when they first boot a machine from Dell/HP/Lenovo/etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If no browsers are installed by default, how will... users get to the internet? Obviously, this question isn't geared towards the SD crowd that probably has two or three different portable browsers on their usb stick, and copies of all the exes for any browser you can think of laying around in their download folder. But its geared towards those, who don't know that much about computers, and want to be able to open up their computer and go online.... Looking forward to the responses....
  • by MarkLR (236125) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @08:57PM (#28921421)

    >Microsoft's proposal opens the door for Google to work with PC manufacturers to get Chrome on new machines.

    This has always been an option. If Google wants to pay PC manufacturers to install Chrome as a default they can do so both in the US and the EU. It's one of the results of the anti-trust cases of the 90s.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285)
      This is why Google needs an OS. As it is, MS can offer discounts on the OS and web browsers, apparently making it unfeasible for any OEM to sell a cheap PC without the entire MS ecosystem(As an aside I believe the high price of windows has nothing to do with market forces, but only to do with the discounting that is required to keep PC OEM in line).

      If google had an ecossytem, which they could offer to OEM, then MS becomes secondary. Right now for many people managing their own PC is the burden. It is w

  • by gsasha (550394) on Monday August 03, 2009 @01:35AM (#28923321) Homepage
    Interesting that IE8s dialog for choosing a search engine to replace bing (in addition to being utterly confusing), manages to list Google almost the last.

    So, in every case they choose a different ranking function, one that suits them. But of course, who would expect otherwise...

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