Microsoft abandons Windows 7 E edition for Europe

In a dramatic turnaround, Microsoft has formally abandoned plans to introduce a version of Windows 7 without Internet Explorer in Europe – dubbed Windows 7 E – and decided instead to use the same version of Windows as the rest of the world.

Microsoft abandons Windows 7 E edition for Europe

“One reason we decided not to ship Windows 7 E is concerns raised by computer manufacturers and partners,” claimed Dave Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsoft in a blog entry on “Microsoft on the Issues”.

“Several worried about the complexity of changing the version of Windows that we ship in Europe if our ballot screen proposal is ultimately accepted by the Commission and we stop selling Windows 7 E,” he explained, perhaps with a measure of understatement.

The “ballot system” referred to is the idea of presenting anyone loading Windows 7 for the first time with a selection of browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari and Google Chrome. In this way, Microsoft hopes to ward off EU complaints – and billion-dollar fines – about the alleged anti-competitiveness of forcing people to use Internet Explorer 8 by default.

The blog entry also hinted that the decision to withdraw Windows 7 E was due to EU pressure. In particular, Heiner repeated the EU’s response to the announcement of Windows 7 E that it felt “consumers should be offered a choice of browser, not that Windows should be supplied without a browser at all.”

Microsoft’s decision has a number of consequences.

In particular, it means that anyone in the UK (and Europe) can now upgrade their Windows Vista system to Windows 7, rather than having to perform a clean install – a side effect of Windows 7 E that PC Pro exclusively reported.

This in turn means that Microsoft can introduce a Family Pack for Windows 7 in the UK. The Family Pack allows you to upgrade three household PCs to the new OS with a single licence.

Question marks remain, however, over Microsoft’s pricing policy in the UK. As PC Pro reported, UK users will be paying up to 60 per cent more than their US counterparts for Windows 7.

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