Microsoft starts bundling IE with Windows after anti-trust terms expire

By Lee Kaelin on October 28, 2011, 9:33 AM

A decade ago Microsoft lost an anti-trust case that effectively “loosened” the link between their operating system and its Internet Explorer browser. Yesterday marked the end of that ruling, and the Redmond-based firm looks set to return to old tricks by tightening up the link between the two products once again.

The upcoming release of Windows 8 is expected to have the browser integrated into the operating system with little or no way of removing it. According to CRN, they found the Windows 8 developer pre-release offered no way of uninstalling the browser completely. Microsoft included a switch-like option to enable or disable the browser in settings, though.

Upon further investigation they found that disabling IE with customized settings, and then enabling it again restored the previous settings, proving that the browser just disappeared from the menus rather than it being removed completely. Although unlikely, it is possible the feature will change before the new operating system hits store shelves.

When quizzed by CRN, a Microsoft spokesperson commented, “We have nothing more to share about IE10 at this time beyond what in the guides and the IE Blog.” Having looked on the MSDN Windows 8 blog and the MSDN IE blog it’s immediately apparent there is no documented way of removing the browser.

The move by Microsoft is understandable as the browser is a key aspect of the OS, especially when you consider Google’s Chrome OS integrates the browser with no way to remove it in order to be functional.

It is likely to infuriate those that dislike the product but find that they are unable to remove it. Ten years ago IE’s only competition was Netscape. But things have moved along considerably in that time with Firefox, Chrome and others now biting chunks out of the Redmond giant's browser market share. It seems very unlikely that IE’s re-integration into Windows will result in the browser once again dominating the entire market.

Early last month Microsoft released a developer preview of Windows 8, complete with the hotly debated Metro UI. Those wishing to experience the next-gen operating system can download a copy here. The dev preview will come in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, with no activation required, and will receive live updates just like a retail version of Windows.

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