Microsoft is planning on shipping a version of Windows 7 to Europe that will not include Internet Explorer. This is according to a confidential memo that was sent to PC makers and obtained by CNET. It is likely that Microsoft is reacting to the European Union concerns that by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows 7 it is being anti-competitive in the browser market.
Microsoft's lawyers responded by saying "Our decision to only offer IE separately from Windows 7 in Europe cannot, of course, preclude the possibility of alternative approaches emerging through Commission processes. Other alternatives have been raised in the Commission proceedings, including possible inclusion in Windows 7 of alternative browsers or a 'ballot screen' that would prompt users to choose from a specific set of Web browsers."
A ballot screen may look very similar to the one that is prompted when you install IE 8 where you are given the choice for your default search provider. If Microsoft were to take this route it would be a huge win for Mozilla, Opera, Google and Apple too. Imagine if Apple was able to get its Safari browser onto this ballot list and followed it up with several of their popular "PC vs. Mac" advertisements. Apple could gain a large portion of the browser market due to its large cash reserves and clever advertisements.
Microsoft has said that this announcement will only impact Windows 7 and that it will not be removing Internet Explorer from any of its previous Windows products, including the Virtual XP package for Windows 7. In addition, Microsoft is developing plans to make Internet Explorer easily available to those in the European market who choose to use it.
Internet Explorer once dominated but in the recent years has faced stiff competition from Google, Mozilla and Apple and has faced declining market share each year, for at least the last five years.