Microsoft Confirms New Flexibility in Windows 7

Microsoft is developing a feature in its new operating system that allows users to turn off Internet Explorer and other key Microsoft programs.

The new feature is a major step for the world’s largest software company, which has been accused by competitors and regulators of forcing consumers to run its own software, squeezing rivals’ offerings out of the marketplace.

“In addition to the features that were already available to turn on or off in Windows Vista, we’ve added the following features to the list in Windows 7,” said a Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) blog published on Friday, listing Internet Explorer 8, Windows Media Player and a host of other Microsoft programs.

The publicly available blog was written by Jack Mayo, a manager in the team developing Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system, which will replace the unpopular Vista early next year.

The new design will make it easier for users to remove any traces of Internet Explorer from their desktop, although the software will remain installed on the computer, and allow them to run other browsers more smoothly.

Last month Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), which recently launched its own Chrome browser, joined the Mozilla foundation, producer of the Firefox Web browser, and Norway’s Opera, in protesting Microsoft’s dominance in the browser market.

In January, European regulators brought formal charges against Microsoft for abusing its dominant market position by bundling its Internet Explorer Web browser with its Windows operating system, which is used in 95 percent of the world’s personal computers.

In the past decade, Microsoft has fallen afoul of both U.S. and European antitrust regulators for bundling key programs with its operating system.

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