Microsoft has included in recent Windows 7 test versions an option to turn off the Internet Explorer 8 Web browser, according to testers who have used the recent builds.
According to Chris Holmes, build 7048 of Windows 7 includes Internet Explorer as one of many Windows components that can be turned on or off via a "Windows Features" dialog box. The control panel exists in the public beta version of Windows 7, but IE8 is not listed among the features that can be turned on and off.
Microsoft declined to comment on the feature's inclusion as well as the reasons behind the move. Others are speculating it might have something to do with the European Union's objection to the inclusion of a browser within Windows.
The software maker has cautioned that the EU may seek to have Microsoft allow PC buyers to choose their browser and then require Microsoft to disable certain IE code if a user chooses a non-Microsoft browser.
Enthusiast site AeroXperience has more detail on how IE can be toggled on and off and what exactly that might mean.
As we've already noted, Microsoft is making a number of changes to Windows 7 as it moves from the beta to "release candidate" stage. However, the IE change was not one that was called out in a recent Microsoft blog posting on the topic.