Microsoft Will Let Windows 7 Users Turn Off IE8

earlier reports

In addition to IE8, Windows 7 RC will also let users disable Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Windows Search and several other applications, said Jack Mayo, a group program manager with Microsoft's Documents and Printing team, in a Friday post to the Engineering Windows 7 blog.

When features are disabled, Windows doesn't load their associated binary and data files, but these files are staged so that features can easily be added back to the running OS without additional media, Mayo noted.

These options weren't available to Vista and Windows 7 Beta users, and is part of Microsoft's effort to give customers "more control, flexibility and choice" in managing Windows features, according to Mayo. That's an altruistic goal, but Microsoft's desire to avoid fines that go beyond the $2.5 billion that European antitrust regulators have already levied against the company probably played a bigger role in the decision.

When Microsoft was wrangling with U.S. antitrust regulators over tying IE to Windows earlier this decade, executives insisted that IE couldn't be removed without breaking Windows. Although Microsoft settled this issue in 2002 in the U.S., European regulators in January levied fresh charges against the software giant over IE bundling.

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Microsoft's adherence to the principles of code reuse placed it in a tough spot with regard to disabling IE and other applications, according to Mayo.

"As a platform, Windows tends to emphasize the creation of APIs for many systems, even when those subsystems are viewed as part of a larger system," Mayo wrote. "When we have APIs that are used, we faced the choice of breaking software that just expected those APIs to be there or to continue to support the API."