Internet Explorer with ‘off’ switch in Windows 7

Microsoft has announced that a control panel in its next-generation computer operating system will let users shut off Internet Explorer 8 and other built-in programs.

The news comes less than two months after the European Commission sent Microsoft a Statement of Objections accusing the US software giant of unfairly tying Internet Explorer (IE) to Windows.

“In Windows 7 we are…giving customers more control, flexibility and choice in managing the features available in this version of Windows,” Microsoft documents and printing team group program manager Jack Mayo wrote in an engineering blog post.

“For any of the features listed you can change the state to enable it or disable it.”

Opera Software filed a complaint with the commission in 2007 accusing Microsoft of denying Windows users “a real choice of browser.”

Mozilla, maker of the popular Firefox browser, has also objected to the bundling of IE with Windows.

Google came out with its own browser, Chrome, last year and recently weighed in on the commission’s complaint against Microsoft, calling the IE dominated browser market “largely uncompetitive.” The commission and Microsoft have long clashed over the Redmond, Washington-based company’s practice of bundling other software such as media players into Windows.

Microsoft has until mid-March to respond to the browser charges and can request an oral hearing to state its defense.

According to figures from January from the Internet research firm Net Applications, IE had a total browser market share of 67.5 percent.

Firefox was next with 21.53 percent, followed by Apple’s Safari with 8.29 percent and Chrome with 1.12 percent.

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