Microsoft is tweaking the number of features that can be turned off in Windows 7, with the latest beta build adding Internet Explorer 8 to the killswitch list according Microsoft Product Manager, Jack Mayo.
In the official Microsoft Windows Engineering Blog, Mayo says "If a feature is deselected, it is not available for use. This means the files (binaries and data) are not loaded by the operating system (for security-conscious customers) and not available to users on the computer." However it is important to note that the files are actually just staged, meaning the feature that has been killed can be brought back to life without resorting to the installation DVD.
As well as IE8, you will be able to deselect Media Center, Media Player, DVD Maker, Search, Handwriting Recognition, Fax and Scan, Gadget Platform and XPS Viewer in addition to the previously 'switch-offable' items in earlier betas.
Unfortunately, there seems little chance that any of the above will be optional components during installation any time soon if ever. Mayo makes it quite clear that the "vast majority of feedback" received was to "reduce the amount of potential complexity in getting a PC running" and not to add items such as Internet Explorer to the optional components list during setup.
Despite this, I wonder just how this will impact upon the oft repeated Microsoft argument that web browser and operating system are somehow joined at the coding hip? Was this latest move, albeit a superficial separation of the two, in response to the continuing pressure from the European Commission? Will we now see a Windows 7 Europe edition which not only has a browser killswitch but also offers users a choice of alternative browser options if IE8 is disabled? I am inclined to think affirmative for the former, but remain to be convinced of the latter.