Microsoft has made changes to the upcoming Release Candidate version of Windows 7 that will enable users to turn off key features of the operating system, including Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Media Player.
The capability to turn off these features is new to the RC version, which is expected to be released in April. This was not possible with the beta version of the operating system that became available in January.
Some observers speculate that this move is a reaction to Opera Software's antitrust lawsuit lodged with the European Commission that calls for Microsoft to untether Internet Explorer from Windows.
In a post on the Engineering Windows 7 blog on March 6, Jack Mayo, group program manager for the Windows 7 Documents and Printing team, wrote:
"In Windows 7 we are expanding the number of features you have control over in this regard, giving customers more control, flexibility and choice in managing the features available in this version of Windows. 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:Windows Media PlayerWindows Media CenterWindows DVD MakerInternet Explorer 8Windows SearchHandwriting Recognition (through the Tablet PC Components option)Windows Gadget PlatformFax and ScanXPS Viewer and Services (including the Virtual Print Driver)"
In addition, Mayo said: "We want to provide choice while also making sure we do not compromise on compatibility by removing APIs provided for developers. We also want to strike the right balance for consumers in providing choice and balancing compatibility with applications and providing a consistent Windows experience."
Bryant Zadegan, a Windows enthusiast, kicked off the news of Microsoft's plan to enable turning off features in his AeroXperience blog.
Meanwhile, Mayo said Microsoft has implemented the turn-off capability as a post-setup feature for Windows 7. Said Mayo:
"Finally, we know some have suggested that this set of choices be a "setup option." Some operating systems do provide this type of setup experience. As we balanced feedback, the vast majority of feedback we have received was to streamline setup and to reduce the amount of potential complexity in getting a PC running. We chose to focus this feature on the post-setup experience for Windows 7."