Microsoft has announced today that its latest version of Windows won't include Internet Explorer in the EU. Their decision to yank IE comes just before the European Commission is due to rule on the pending antitrust suit. According to a company memo, Microsoft’s actions are an attempt to ensure compliance with European law.

Throughout the recent antitrust debacle, Opera, Mozilla and Google have complained that bundling IE with Windows is harmful to competition. This is obviously debatable, to say the least. In the very market being questioned, Firefox 3 held 35% versus IE7’s 34%, for starters. Microsoft also took a step in the right direction by permitting the removal of IE8 in Windows 7.

Naturally Redmond has defended its browser up until this point, calling it an integral part of the operating system, but I guess this time they rather take a preemptive move to avoid big fines. Computer vendors are still likely to pre-install IE8 or at least one other browser before distribution; but European users upgrading to a browser-less Windows 7 will have to deal with the additional steps and inconvenience of downloading their preferred browser from a separate machine or previous Windows installation.