Microsoft Corp. has announced the next version of its Windows operating system will include a control panel that allows users to turn off Internet Explorer (IE) 8 and other key Microsoft programs.
The new feature is a significant move for the world’s largest software company, which has been accused by rivals and regulators of forcing consumers to use its software and stifling competition.
Indeed, the announcement comes less than two months after the European Commission sent Microsoft a Statement of Objections that accused the company of unfairly bundling Internet Explorer to its Windows operating system, which is used in 95 percent of the world’s personal computers. The company has also fallen under the scrutiny of U.S. antitrust regulators in recent years for bundling key programs with its operating system.
Microsoft’s move to de-bundle IE and other programs is part of the company’s plan to prevent European antitrust regulators from derailing an important software launch.
“In addition to the features that were already available to turn on or off in Windows Vista, we’ve added the following features to the list in Windows 7,” Microsoft program manager Jack Mayo wrote Friday in a post on the company’s engineering blog, listing IE 8, Windows Media Player and a variety of other Microsoft programs.
Although Windows 7, the successor to the much-criticized Vista, isn’t due out until next year, more than a million people are already testing early versions of the software.
The new operating system will make it easier for users to remove any traces of IE, although the software will remain installed on the computer.
In a gesture of protest to Microsoft’s dominance in the Web browser market, Google Inc. joined the Mozilla foundation and Norway’s Opera last month, both of which make competitive browsers.
On the Net: