Chicago (IL) – Microsoft is finally no longer conducting themselves as a dictator as to how an individual utilizes their OS, well, at least in one small way. Now, a new box called Windows Features allows individuals to select whether or not they wish to host software features integrated with their system. This includes media features, games, IE8, and other items.
The blog circuit is abuzz with posts from individuals who have tried the Windows 7 Beta build 7048. In the effort to utilize Microsoft’s removal tool, you must reboot the computer twice and run additional configuration steps. This does not completely uninstall Internet Explorer 8, however, instead it erases the executable I8 file. Screenshots of the removal can be found at AeroXP.org.
This method of removal makes sense as Microsoft claims that the programs bundled with its operating system are vertically integrated. To me however it is odd as individuals can easily install and uninstall other browsers with zero issues. The tight integration of the browser actually makes very little sense.
This new option is more than likely in response to the recent accusations by the EU for antitrust issues that Microsoft has used its dominant Windows market share position to force other software, like Internet Explorer, onto the market. The company is probably finding that it is becoming quite expensive to be so strict on their integrated software.
As someone who has done a lot of Win32 programming, I can tell you that the tight bundling of Internet Explorer can be an invaluable tool to developers who, simply by creating an ActiveX window, can expose all of the power of Internet Explorer (or Word, or Outlook, or Adobe or any other application which installs in this way) and its rendering abilities, including direct access to Internet content, directly inside their own application. I further remember seeing Ballmer talk about this prior to Windows 95 being released, about how the abilities exposed by having tight Internet Explorer integration would change the face of computing.
The abilities exposed to applications by using these types of tightly integrated ActiveX controls allow abilities to exist which may not be possible otherwise, at least not without comprehensive third party libraries which increase the application’s footprint on the machine as well as amount of installed software.
However, to reiterate Samantha’s point, there is no reason why this level of tight integration could not be abstracted to include the ability to remove it completely, replacing it entirely with Firefox, Opera or other third-party browser controls which are equally as integrated and powerful. And in this way, it most assuredly is a tool used by Microsoft to force their own tools upon the market. -Rick