back to article MS coughs to hokey-cokey IE8 option in Windows 7

Microsoft has finally acknowledged that Windows 7 will come with a toggle option to “turn off” Internet Explorer 8. The company published a new post on its ‘Engineering Windows 7’ blog today in which it confirmed the list of features users would be able to turn on and off in the control panel. Up to today the software giant …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    "In January the EU said the firm had violated European competition law by including Internet Explorer with Windows."

    If I'm reading this correctly, the EU wants Win 7 to ship without IE? Well thats fine. If I were in charge at M$, I'd have a batch of install media made for the EU market which didn't have the native capability to browse the internet at all.

    When people started calling the support line to complain they couldn't get on to the internet TO EVEN DOWNLOAD AN ALTERNATIVE BROWSER I'd instruct my staff to give them the telephone number for the EU. Ok, they could use another computer to download it, but many people only have one computer, and they'd be stuffed.

    A few months of that and the EU would be begging M$ to put IE back in.

  2. John Macintyre
    Gates Horns

    i never understood this one

    I get that ie sucks big time, but apple ships safari with it's pc's, so why is this different? or is this just because ms has a bigger marketshare?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nope, try again

    I want to be able to *remove* these things, not just turn them off. If they're still present, then either parts of them will be used (security hole) or they won't (waste of disk space). I'm also OCD enough to hate having an unremovable checkbox that can turn MSIE back on lying around. I don't need a special button for any other application, so why would I want one for MSIE or Media Player?

    Mind you, I can't claim they've lost a customer as a result, just failed to gain one.

  4. andrew mulcock
    Thumb Down



    I bet you will still have to use IE to access all of the Microsoft update systems.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Malcolm

    Probably impossible to remove totally

    I expect it would be practically impossible for IE to be totally removed from Windows for at least two reasons:

    a) Various parts of the UI require the browser control - things like the help files for instance.

    b) Various 3rd party pieces of software expect the browser control to be available as a reusable component - removing it would probably be a backwards compatibility nightmare.

    To my knowledge there are no API compatible replacements for the browser control so it's not as if there is a great choice of browser components to choose from.

  7. Andy Barber

    Jack Mayo

    I'm glad I don't work with someone called "Jack Mayo".

    They would have to be called "Jack Salad-Cream!"

    BTW I love Marmite!

  8. Steve Davies Silver badge


    So you can remove IE8. Big deal especially when there are still many pages on Microsoft's own web site that require you to use IE.

    I don't use Vista and haven't tried Windows 7 but if I recall properly, the dreaded WGA won't work with anything but IE. Does Win 7 have this? If so will you be able to :-

    1) Register Win 7 using Firefox or Opera or any other browser?

    2) Get updates?

    Is this just paying lip service to the 'Unbudlers' and you have to install IE8 in order to get the updates? Oh well, at least you can uninstall it later.

    Mines the one with an eeePc in the pocket running Fedora. Sorry Microshaft, I've left the fold and have no intention of retuning.

  9. Nanki Poo

    Thanks cripes for that

    It could be a tortuous process, as they apparently haven't gotten the basics right.

    Demoing a site yesterday I went to our partner suppliers office. The usual array of techno-gremlin stuff happened and we couldn't get connected on my laptop, so one of the guys forfeited his desktop. IE open so loaded the site.

    The header was fab. everything where it should be, all those flash-over-images code rendered perfickly. Then our eyes drifted downwards... the 950 pixel width content was, to its credit, still there. Just in a 50px column.

    The testing moment is always the one just before the client starts giggling. He started giggling. O-K... survived that one...

    "Funny, it didn't look like that when I left it at home... er... Fred, this isn't by any chance...?"

    "IE8!?... shit! sorry."

    A lesson in trying out new software on your live machine, but that was pretty basic coding it was frapping up. I installed Ubuntu a few weeks ago and have been fervently trying any browser that if not moves then faintly shivers. A lot are crap for one reason or another but never ever did one collapse the whole site wrapper.

    It just sorta looks like they're building on flawed past footings rather than the clean slate they keep on promising. Good code is designed from the inside out, and even a beta should be reliable to release level for core standards. Obviously the fringe, recent standards need ironing out but simple html tags should be a click of the finger. Then again, I guess they've got to learn them first.


  10. William Old


    So now you get all of the vulnerabilities, without any of the functionality...

    I suppose that's progress... :-(

  11. CTG


    Now all it needs is an option to turn off Windows and download Ubuntu...

    Flames, in anticipation :-)

  12. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    More detailed explanation of the derision?

    [[Some observers have derided Microsoft's suggested method for "removing" the browser from Windows 7, because the feature doesn't uninstall the browser in the latest build.]]

    On what basis was their derision?

    To some, a program is the features it provides.

    To others, a program is the code that implements the features.

    This can be a million-dollar-a-day difference. ;)

    (Paris, because I reckon she'd be about a million dollars a day. No, wait, Paris because she's all about the features, not the code behind.)

  13. Joe User
    Thumb Up

    In other news, Satan has taken up skiing

    It's about time that Microsoft gave us the ability to remove some the miscellaneous cruft they've tacked on to Windows over the years. Many people don't use these features (or use a better third-part app), so this junk amounts to nothing more than a waste of disk space.

  14. David Simpson
    Gates Halo

    So really what you are saying is.....

    It works exactly like Vista. Open Programs (add/remove) and click turn windows features on and off.

    There you go the "ability" to deselect IE etc. Although being able to deselect Media Center is a "new" "feature".

  15. Gis Bun

    Do people care?

    Do people really care that IE can be "disabled". Sometimes it's nice to have a second browser - just to make sure the browser is showing the site correctly. Using Firefox 3 and a menu showed only 5 items [when I know there was more]. IE7 showed them all [20+].

    The only ones that care are the Opera, Google and Mozilla lobbyists that are pushing/bribing the EC to force Microsoft to change Windows. So much for living in a democracy. If you don't want to use it, don't. The EC is telling people what they can and can't do. Maybe they should stop wasting millions on this mess and try and do something meaningful.

    If they continue, they should go after Apple for allowing them to bundle Safari [does any Apple users use that buggy piece of crap anyways?]

  16. Pierre


    "These same files are staged so that the features can easily be added back to the running OS without additional media. This staging is important feedback we have received from customers who definitely do not like to dig up the installation DVD.”

    What do you mean, you can now add or remove something a tad less trivial than the desktop background WHITHOUT REBOOTING 5 TIMES? That has to be the most amazing technical breakthrough by MS guys these 15 last years*. Windows might be ready for the desktop soon after all.

    Unless, as I suspect, they are stretching the definition of "the running OS" beyond any imaginable limits, to make it mean "the OS was running before and will be running after the addition", not "the OS is running while the addition is being made". In which case windows will be ready for the desktop only in a few years. Maybe.

    Bets are on.

    As for me, gimme my coat, tired of waiting.

    * In particular, I find it very rich that Vista, that was touted as "the MS OS you will fire up once and never shut down" needs to be rebooted, like, ten times every patch Tuesday... and a few times each time you want to change anything in your config inbetween... way to miss the point by a few light years, MS!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Good Safe Internet Practice

    dictates disabling IE and using another browser. Now Microsoft have invented this. Wait for the lawsuits

  18. frymaster

    Alternative reason

    While I it probably _is_ to do with EU problems, it could aso be to silence the computing equivalent of the 500-quid-for-a-hi-fi-power-cable crowd that like to tweak windows by turning lots of services off. And if I was ultra-anal about what browser I used, maybe I'd want badly behaving programs to error rather than bring up IE when they fail to respect my browser choice (but I doubt it)

  19. vincent himpe


    ( the european union that is )

    If no browser is installed then you can not get on the internet to download a different browser.

    Have they nothing better to do ? Go after Apple: those machines come with a default browser as well.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    m$ promises

    Does this mean that if I'm stupid enough to use outlook express and get sent a HTML e-mail with redirect embedded that it will be handled by **MY** specified browser and not the insecure m$ HTML rendering engine ? I suspect not, so it's still there in some shape or form no doubt.

    outlook and outlook express I like from the presentation of information standpoint. The security is rubbish though !

    It's about time the dinosaur got removed from windo$e. I've been using tabbed browsing since something like 2001, and m$ only brought it in 2 years ago.

    As to the desktop ? Give me KDE any day with multiple desktops and the precise task navigation that gives. ALT-TAB is imprecise and primitive by comparison.

    However, I still need windo$e for some things, and this list is getting smaller. But for now I still need it.

  21. Ceiling Cat

    Things I need windows for...

    Mabinogi (MMO)

    Trainz (Train simulator)

    Reason (software synth and sequencer)


    Yeah, I think that's about it really.

  22. George
    Thumb Up

    Step in the right direction

    We can argue as much as we like, but a browser has to be bundled with an OS. Apple do it, all Linux distros do it. Same as a mail client, text editor etc.

    The browser however should not be part of the OS and the OS should be able to provide all functionality, including updates etc, without relying on a particular browser.

    So for Outlook express to display html messages, it would have to rely on it own rendering capability, effectively being a "browser as well", same for the update services etc.

    Being able to choose which components of the OS you want to install is the step in the right direction. Windows should offer a custom install option so one can pick and choose only what is required for the purpose of the install (Linux distros model). If I only want to edit videos and nothing else, do I need networking, indexing, parental control....

  23. Pierre

    @ vincent himpe

    "If no browser is installed then you can not get on the internet to download a different browser."

    Dear Vincent,

    This is (supposedly) a techie place, which means that most people reading these pages actually know how to operate a computer, or what internet is (unlike you, apparently). You just made a fool of yourself. Thank you for trying.

    Also, even if the (very) basic luser can't access "teh itarwebs" without a browser, what's wrong with CDs, usb sticks, or other physical media?

  24. null


    This is a clever way of doing things because you're still getting the software, now it can just be disabled. Therefore you're still PAYING for all the shit you don't want but now you can "turn it off." When is MS going to get it through their think skulls that we want a minimalistic OS with less shit AND WE DONT WANT TO PAY FOR THE EXTRA SHIT.

  25. Stuart Elliott
    Thumb Up

    Good news everybody..

    "IE8 isn't the only Windows component users will be able to "remove" from the operating system.

    Microsoft has also added Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Windows DVD Maker, Windows Search, Handwriting Recognition, Windows Gadget Platform, Fax and Scan and XPS Viewer and Services to the options list."

    Excellent, all the crap I don't use..

  26. Lager And Crisps
    Jobs Horns


    The big bad EU is picking on poor innocent Microsoft again, shame on them.

    If Microsoft hadn't embedded IE so far into Windows that it became a requirement of the operating system to function, none of this would be necessary. But no, in their infinite wisdom and quest for world domination Microsoft entwined IE and Windows so one was inseparable from the other.

    I vaguely remember a passage from the film "Enter The Dragon" where Bruce Lee is asked about his martial arts style. His reply was something along the lines of "the art of fighting, without fighting". Microsoft has mastered the art of complying, without complying.

    And to top it all off, if IE is still on the system (it is not physically removed) then it can still be a target for malware creators.

    Microsoft, the embodiment of frustration.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    @ vincent himpe

    How can they get another bowser?

    Supply Windows with Lynx. Or a few FTP shortcuts ... problem solved.

  28. raving angry loony

    @Holmes et. al.

    You folks don't believe much in "consumer choice" do you? Or even in "non predatory practices". Or even basic fucking ethics for that matter. Whatever Microsoft does is OK as far as you're concerned.

    I'm glad at least ONE government is taking the issue somewhat seriously. The USA dropped the ball (and then some) in their prosecution of this repeat offender, but it finally looks like someone has the number of this behemoth.

    Now if I could only convince the fucking ignorant application builders that platform independence is the right way to go, and don't lock my customers into crappy OS with lousy security and one of the highest TCO on the market today. I swear the bastards must be getting kickbacks from Microsoft given that even ONLINE apps are still getting locked to Microsoft. Asshats.

  29. Harry
    Thumb Down

    The acid tests ...

    are not whether you can remove IE, but:

    a) At initial install time, and on every other occasion when a user could install IE, will it also offer (with equal prominence) the ability to choose at least the five IE competitors with the biggest market share? If it does not, then it should not be providing the ability to install IE either.

    b) Will EVERYTHING else work properly if another browser is chosen instead of IE ? Including WINDOWS UPDATE and every single page of the microsoft web site ?

    If it can't meet both a) and b) then the requirement to give the user a proper CHOICE of browser has NOT been met.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    @Gis Bun (and various others with the "they should go after Apple as well")

    'The only ones that care...' 'So much for living in a democracy...' 'The EC is telling people what they can and can't do. Maybe they should stop wasting millions on this mess and try and do something meaningful.'

    On the contrary. Firstly, many people care. There are lots of people however who don't care and just want their computer to work in the same way that their TV works. Alas they've been sold this picture and they don't know any better.

    Secondly, a democracy is about everyone. Not a majority. Not a minority. Everybody. There are restrictions though: you can't really let a mass murderer go round claiming that he/she has the same rights as everyone else when he/she is actively engaged in taking someone else's rights away.

    Thirdly, and this ties in with secondly, the "people" who are telling everyone what they can and can't do is Microsoft. This point doesn't really need any examples, they're there for all to see. What the EU Commission is doing is protecting the rights of people to be able to make a choice (e.g. use whatever browser they want without having something foist upon them, or even be able to use whatever OS they want without having to purchase/install another OS). The word for this is democracy. Yes it is, see secondly.

    I've seen Stallman talk on a couple of occasions now and whilst I don't really like the way he behaves, I've come to the conclusion that he's largely correct. This is a political battle for the ability to use your computer, in the way that you want, with the programs of your choice. There's a word for this: freedom.

    'If they continue, they should go after Apple for allowing them to bundle Safari [does any Apple users use that buggy piece of crap anyways?]'

    The difference is that Apple is not a convicted monopolist. [Yes, my boyfriend - one of the people who uses the machine like he uses a TV - quite reasonably too since all he does is e-mail and surf.]

    And finally, in the 30+ years I've used computers it never fails to amaze me just how much shit people who don't know any better will put up with. "That's the way it works," is the plaintive cry. Bollocks. These people wouldn't put up with a car that stalled two or three times every journey but they'll put up with an OS that does the equivalent. They just can't be arsed to go out and learn something about the machines and that's because they expect to be able to just switch it on and go.

    Which brings me back to firstly.

    Sigh... why am I even bothering... I'm just a bit sick of it all now... where's the lottery ticket...

  31. Wolf

    This is the whole problem

    "Some observers have derided Microsoft's suggested method for "removing" the browser from Windows 7, because the feature doesn't uninstall the browser in the latest build. Instead it simply deletes the "iexplore.exe" file, all other components of IE8 remain intact on the operating system."

    Ok, stop. Just stop.

    IExplore.exe *IS INTERNET EXPLORER*. Period. Full stop.

    The other "components" of "IE8" are not part of Internet Explorer--they're part of Windows.

    For example Trident (the HTML rendering engine) is used by all kinds of third party software to (wait for it!) display HTML files--whether those files are web pages or help files or a simple way to do rich text in an application.

    The Java VM is used to (wait for it) run Java and Javascript.

    The URL system is used by all kinds of software, including FTP. Duh.

    ActiveX is used by lots of things besides IE.

    Therefore, how can any of these "IE8 components" actually be called part of IE8?

    Anyone who argues these are part of IE does not understand the concept of "component". :)

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Does it really matter?

    The question is, will anyone use this option?

    I use firefox, but I do still use IE occasionally for different things (including testing websites in it when I write them). I don't use it, but I won't disable it.

    I assume apple will have to provide an option to remove their piece of shit browser now too...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    John Macintyre Posted Friday 6th March 2009 16:44 GMT


    I get that ie sucks big time, but apple ships safari with it's pc's, so why is this different? or is this just because ms has a bigger marketshare?


    Never used a Mac have you?

    Drag safari from Application to the rubbish bin, empty it. OS still runs, can download (hopefully before trashing Safari) FireFox or any other web browser, use it and run it.

    Windows, Drag IE to the rubbish bin? ermmm wait no, its windows and DLL hell across the entire hard drive. Uninstall IE, er no, not an option. Forcibly remove IE, now the OS screws up because of all the embedded reliance on IE... User downloads tries to install FireFox, now has web browser and a b0rked OS.

    Thank you,

    come again!

  34. DanBe
    Paris Hilton

    Rob, Vincent, STOP with this nonsense !

    Rob Holmes said: "they couldn't get on to the internet TO EVEN DOWNLOAD AN ALTERNATIVE BROWSER"

    vincent himpe said:

    If no browser is installed then you can not get on the internet to download a different browser.


    It is not because you are completetely IGNORANT about the capacities of your OS that these do not exist !!!

    You are confusing the web with the internet.

    People have downloaded files on their computers by internet for more than 20 years before the web existed, thus, inevitably, without Microsoft Explorer !!

    NO need for Microsoft Explorer to download a web browser !!!

    Simply use TELNET or FTP, the File Transport procedure present on every computer that could be connected to the internet !

    Make this simple test by yourself:

    Click on Start->Run

    Type: ftp -A

    Press <Enter> or click on [ OK ]

    Miraculously, your are on a FTP site from witch you can download Firefox !!!

    ==>> Without any need of Microsoft Explorer !!!

    Paris, because SHE knows better !!!

  35. Charles King

    Just sad, really

    For a site that supposedly is read by techies, there sure are a lot of comments here from people without a clue.

    Wolf is right - there's a difference between the browser and the rendering engines that are required by the OS. Deleting iexplore.exe *IS* deleting Internet Explorer. Sure, you can drag Safari to the trash, but try deleting WebKit on a Mac and see how far you go... All the underlying engines are essential for the operation of any modern OS. Trying to mix-and-match them is just asking for a support nightmare.

    @null: If cost is a concern why aren't you already running Linux? MS sells a package deal.

    Oh, and @Big, tattooed Fred: a Democracy *IS* majority rule - 50%+1 is all you need.

    The EU has been right on many of their attacks on MS, but this 'browser war' nonsense has just gone on too long. Firefox has a 22% market share versus 68% for IE. The IE monopoly has been broken - those who still use it aren't doing so because they have no alternative.

  36. Adrian Esdaile

    Could the EU include Geese with the Ganders?

    I don't notice the EU (or anyone else for that matter) bitch-slapping Apple for supplying the god-awful Safari with OSX-Mangy Minx or whatever the latest bug-fix version is.

    And what about iTunes - every time you install it you have to play whack-a-mole with it to stop installing the god-awful Safari.

    Last I noticed, if you don't like IE, you don't have to use it! Just install Firefox, or Safari or Opera or Netscape if you want, and set it to 'default browser' - heck you don't even have to do that - most set themselves automatically.

    Admittedly, some people who are technologically challenged and have trouble using high-tech items (such as doors, knives & forks, pencils, wiping their own arses) might find this difficult so I guess I can see why the EU wants a nanny-state.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow you lot need to do some research

    You do not need ie to do windows update on vista, or win 7 for that matter, it has its own little application! everyone bitching about how to get updates need to do some research, but now you'll probably start complaining that you have to use your own app to do it and not one of your own choosing.

    My own two cents ms scould do one of these things :

    1. tell the EU to go screw itself, stop selling windows to the EU for a couple of months and see even more businesses get hit hard by the recession., due ot having to sell and support machines people arn't used to.

    2. remove all components to do with the web and don't allow the install of any browsers by a OEM (all you seem to forget that firefox is included by most oem resellers, if theres no ie, there shouldn't be allowed to be any firefox or anything preinstalled, everyone should play by the same rules right?) and then see how confused people get.

    Oh and to everyone saying sadfari is ok because its easy to remove, well done for missing the point, the point is that apple should be held to the same rules as ms, if ms arn't allowed to ship with a browser, nor should apple or any other, and again i mean any browser , so OEM's should now not be allowed to add firefox or anything to there installs.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Charles King

    "a Democracy *IS* majority rule - 50%+1 is all you need."

    So the 50%+1 vote to take away the voting rights of the others and you say this is democratic? Or do you prefer the word "just"?

    Further, I take issue with the definition of democracy as majority rule, but then that's a difference of interpretation and you're allowed your opinion, just as I'm allowed to think that it's narrow-minded.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Wow you lot need to do some research

    Quote: "Oh and to everyone saying sadfari is ok because its easy to remove, well done for missing the point, the point is that apple should be held to the same rules as ms, if ms arn't allowed to ship with a browser, nor should apple or any other, and again i mean any browser , so OEM's should now not be allowed to add firefox or anything to there installs."

    Perhaps you should do some research into the law. Apple is not in a monopolist position in the operating system market. MS are. If Apple had 90%+ of the OS market, then the EU **would be** applying the same rules to them as they are doing to MS. But they don't so the EU don't have to and, more to the point, they **can't** do so.

    The EU are not just morally but legally obliged by their constituents to apply the law. MS are ("allegedly") in breach of the law so the EU **has** to investigate them, and it **has** to charge an punish them if they are proven to be so. Apple are not (and due to their minor market share, they can't be) in breach of the law so the EU can't investigate them for something they aren't and can't be doing wrong.

    Anyway, wrt to the original article, surely this is tacit admission by MS that they are in fact breaking the law by bundling IE into Windows. I think they have just screwed their own pooch with the EU by doing this.

  40. Adam

    Better idea

    If you don't want IE, don't buy Windows. What was that? You don't anway because you just leach it off the net? Well stop yer moaning then!

    Jeez, it's like stealing a car and then complaining it doesn't have a/c.

    As soon as the EU drops this ridiculous charade and lets a private company go on developing its product unhindered by ridiculous rules on anti-competition (which basically boils down to anti-Americanism), the better.

  41. Pierre

    @ Charles King

    Way to miss the point mate. The bundling problem is not about market shares. It's not about giving the end user the choice to download another browser for free. It's about MS getting paid real cash for its crappy web browser while the other vendors have to provide it for free or get stuffed because, you know, "everyone already have IE installed anyway so why would I pay"?

    The whole fucking point is to give other browser vendor a chance to get money from the OEM crowd -or end users- in the first place instead of forcing everyone to pay for IE, then install a real browser for free if they want. You get it now?

  42. TimNevins

    So sad

    All these tech posters and no-one can think around having a catch-22 how do you get a browser without a browser problem.

    1) Write a very small desktop executable that communicates with an agreed-upon remote site(using HTTP/FTP) that houses the latest browsers. This is a dedicated app whose sole purpose it to enable downloads of browsers.

    2) User selects browser(s)

    3) App downloads and runs said installations for browsers.

    It's not hard.

  43. Pierre


    "All these tech posters and no-one can think around having a catch-22 how do you get a browser without a browser problem."

    Maybe it's because no tech poster would consider that as a problem? To cite a few solutions: FTP, P2P networks, nntp, damn, even instant messengers do file transfer these times... choose yours. Not to forget physical media.

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