Under fire from EU, Microsoft leaves Web browser out of Windows 7

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    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talks about Windows 7 at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in January.
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Responding to government regulations, Microsoft said today that copies of Windows 7 bound for Europe will arrive without an Internet browser.

In January, the European Union ruled that including Internet Explorer with Windows unfairly blocked competition with other browsers. Lawmakers considered forcing Microsoft to include rival browsers, such as Firefox and Chrome. But today's announcement seems to address the EU's concerns.

New computers will most likely come with a browser – it's hard to imagine a computer without one these days – but the decision of which program will come preinstalled is up to the manufacturer, Microsoft says.

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"To ensure that Microsoft is in compliance with European law, Microsoft will be releasing a separate version of Windows 7 for distribution in Europe that will not include Windows Internet Explorer," the software maker said in the memo obtained by CNET. "Microsoft will offer IE8 separately and free of charge and will make it easy and convenient for PC manufacturers to preinstall IE 8 on Windows 7 machines in Europe if they so choose. PC manufacturers may choose to install an alternative browser instead of IE 8, and has always been the case, they may install multiple browsers if they wish."

Windows 7 comes out in October.

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