Microsoft, in a fine bit of political posturing, announced earlier this month that it will reverse its policy on letting users and computer manufacturers disable access to its Internet Explorer browser using the standard Add/ Remove Programs icon in the Control Panel.
The company is also changing its OEM licensing agreements to allow manufacturers to change the desktop or Start Menu as they see fit, something Microsoft has prohibited in the past.
In a release that conceded nothing except to acknowledge the ruling of the District of Columbia Circuit appeals court, Microsoft reversed positions it has long held as sacrosanct: that IE is an integral part of Windows and cannot be interfered with or the entire system might become nonfunctional and that only Microsoft can determine what users can first see and can easily find when they run Windows.
Many people, including analysts at eWeek Labs, publicly demonstrated more than a year ago how simple it is to remove or safely disable IE components from Windows, so its no surprise to me that Microsoft is realizing this now.
As with other Microsoft concessions over the years, this one is mostly empty. The battle for the browser is over: IE won. Streaming media, messaging and portal access are the new battlefronts, and Microsoft was notably silent on these issues.