Microsoft back to bundling IE with Windows after anti-trust terms expire

It's been a long time since Microsoft was able to have its way with their Internet browser. The anti-trust case that the company lost over 10 years ago effectively loosened the link between IE and Windows so that competing browsers could stand a chance against the juggernaut. Over a decade and a couple of major releases later, Microsoft is planning to begin tightening integration right where they left off.

According to CRN, the version of Internet Explorer bundled with Windows 8 will be a permanent fixture. In previous releases, Microsoft was forced to allow uninstalling the software, and even published instructions on how to do so. While Windows 8 does have an option to "turn IE off", that just removes it from view. If you turn the "feature" back on, all of your customized settings still exist, pointing to the likelihood that IE is never really uninstalled completely. While this alone isn't a smoking gun, the fact that Metro apps will rely on the existence of IE 10 pretty much seals the deal. When asked about the ability to uninstall, a Microsoft spokeswoman referred to earlier press documents on IE 10, none of which detail any process for uninstallation.

Since the terms of the consent agreement actually expired earlier this year, Microsoft isn't in the (legal) wrong for bundling IE. In fact, the marketplace is so different than than it was 10 years ago that one has to ask if it really makes a difference anymore if IE is bundled. When the anti-trust case was being fought, the only real competitor was Netscape. Needless to say, Netscape is no longer a threat, Firefox and Chrome have eaten very far into IE's once dominant market share, and browsers are becoming less of a standalone software and more of an integrated OS component (see: Google Chrome OS). Microsoft may be back to its nefarious bundling ways, but its effect on the market will not be nearly as disruptive as it once was.

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