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MS coughs to hokey-cokey IE8 option in Windows 7

Wishes it could turn off EU regulators too

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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 had remained silent about making IE8 optional rather than required in Windows 7, even though several bloggers first spotted the change in the latest test copy of the operating system earlier this week.

Build 7048 is only currently available to a handful of testers, officially at least. Anyone else interested in playing with it can grab a – potentially dodgy – copy from various BitTorrent sites.

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.

“If a feature is deselected, it is not available for use. This means the files (binaries and data) are not loaded by the operating system (for security-conscious customers) and not available to users on the computer," explained Jack Mayo on the Windows 7 blog.

"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.”

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.

Others have speculated that Redmond’s decision to add its browser to the Features list in Windows 7 was meant as an attempt to appease Brussels’ anti-trust regulators. In January the EU said the firm had violated European competition law by including Internet Explorer with Windows.

Microsoft was given eight weeks to respond to the EC’s preliminary findings. ®

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