Talking tech since 2003

CNET reports that Microsoft will be offering the option to some European customers (sorry everyone else) to purchase Windows 7 without Internet Explorer installed on the operating system.  This is of course a move by Microsoft in response to all of the anti-trust allegations against them in the EU. However, it means more than just that if you look at this from a technical perspective as opposed to a legal one.

There used to be a time in Windows history where Internet Explorer was completely intertwined within the Windows operating system itself.  In order to run Windows Updates you needed Internet Explorer at one point.  That however changed with the release of Windows Vista.  The release of Windows Vista marked the first time when Windows Update was a separate entity from Internet Explorer.  It was its own application in the control panel.  Internet Explorer is also tied into Windows Explorer (even today with Vista).  You can easily browse the web or go to a web site directly from an Explorer window.

The fact that Microsoft now has the ability to offer an Internet Explorer-less version of Windows is huge.  It may not be ideal in terms of market share in the web browser market, but, it’s a huge accomplishment.  It means that Microsoft is definitely moving closer to their goal of turning Windows into a more modular operating system rather than a monolithic one.  As I said, it’s a great accomplishment on Microsoft’s part.

In addition to Windows becoming more modular, it may also become more secure.  Internet Explorer is blamed for a lot of security issues and malware infections on Windows machines.  The fact that it is now being removed from the equation may very well a.) reduce infections (at least in Europe) and b.) make malware creators find ways to get past security holes in other browsers.  At the very least it will make people who blame Internet Explorer for (all/most) malware infections have something to cheer about.  I guess we will find out if it truly makes a difference when it comes to getting your computer infected.

Then again, malware is always evolving and finding new ways in to infect your computer, so I doubt (if it does make a difference) it will last very long.


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