Microsoft on Friday confirmed that users will be able to remove Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), as well as several other integrated applications, from Windows 7.
The ability to remove IE8 was revealed by a pair of bloggers on Wednesday after they poked around Windows 7 Build 7048, a post-beta version that has leaked to file-sharing sites on the Web.
[ Getting ready to pick a new browser? Read security reviews of Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Opera. And for the full Test Center rundown on browser security, see InfoWorld's special report. | Also check out the special report on Microsoft's new OS: Early looks at Windows 7. ]
Yesterday, Mike Nash, vice president of Windows product management, declined to comment on the bloggers' reports. "It's unfortunate that builds leak out," Nash said. "But I can't comment on unreleased products."
On Friday, however, Jack Mayo, a group program manager on the Windows team, acknowledged that Windows 7 will include an expanded list of features and applications that can be switched off.
In an entry to the Engineering Windows 7 blog, Mayo listed the applications that can be switched off, which include: Internet Explorer 8; Fax and Scan; Handwriting recognition; Windows DVD Maker; Windows Gadget Platform; Windows Media Player; Windows Media Center; Windows Search; and XPS Viewer and Services.
He also explained that the files associated with those applications and features are not actually deleted from the hard drive. "If a feature is deselected, it is not available for use," said Mayo. "This means the files (binaries and data) are not loaded by the operating system and not available to users on the computer. 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."
Furthermore, said Mayo, the APIs related to those features are still supported by Windows 7 -- even if the application or feature has been disabled -- if "these APIs are necessary to the functionality of Windows or where there are APIs that are used by developers that can be viewed as independent of the component."
Mayo didn't provide examples of what APIs would still be supported when a user switches off IE8, but presumably Windows Update, which relies on the browser, would remain functional. Nor did he mention the European Union's new antitrust charges against Microsoft, which bloggers Chris Holmes and Bryant Zadegan cited as a possible reason why the company added the IE8 option.