Late Friday, Microsoft quietly revealed that it would abandon plans for the browser-less Windows 7 E Editions in Europe. Instead, betting that European Union (EU) regulators will overwhelmingly support its plan for a browser "ballot screen," Microsoft will ship standard Full and Upgrade versions of Windows 7 in Europe that do include Internet Explorer (IE).
"In the wake of last week's developments, as well as continuing feedback on Windows 7 E that we have received from computer manufacturers and other business partners, I'm pleased to report that we will ship the same version of Windows 7 in Europe in October that we will ship in the rest of the world," Microsoft Vice President Dave Heiner wrote in a Microsoft corporate blog. "If the Commission accepts our recent proposal, we would then fully implement all of its terms. As proposed, we would use the Internet to deliver a ballot screen update to customers who purchase Windows 7 in the European Economic Area, either as part of a PC or as a retail upgrade product."
Heiner says that PC makers and other partners raised concerns about the complexity of supporting Windows 7 E only to have to switch to a different version with a ballot screen. And EU regulators had complained to Microsoft that what it was looking for was consumer choice of browser, not for a version of Windows without any browser at all.
"We're now confident that shipping Windows 7 with IE in Europe—as we will in the rest of the world—is the right thing to do for our partners and for our customers." Heiner added. "We also feel encouraged in making this decision by the positive reaction from so many quarters to our ballot screen proposal last week."
As for those consumers in Europe who preordered the Windows 7 E Editions during the recent special promotion, Microsoft says they will get the full versions of the product at upgrade promotional prices, as promised. But it will be the normal version of Windows 7—not the previously planned Windows 7 E Editions.