Windows 7: Leaner, Most Customizable OS Yet

Dennis Faas's picture

Not a big fan of Internet Explorer 8? Well, Microsoft's upcoming and highly-anticipated operating system (OS) Windows 7 actually allows you to shut the program off altogether -- along with several other features users might not want loaded on their systems.

The 'off switch' is actually a security feature at heart. "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," said Jack Mayo, of Microsoft. "These same files are staged so that the features can easily be added back to the running OS without additional media."

In other words, you can now dictate some of the programs running on the Windows that you couldn't previously. (Source:

Windows Users Demand Greater Control

It's not just Internet Explorer 8 that can be culled, either. So too can several other programs users might reject in favor of third party alternatives, including:

  • Windows Media Center
  • Windows Media Player
  • Windows Search 4.0

Mayo says that Microsoft added the off switch primarily because users demanded it. However, the de-selection process won't be available upon initial installation, but will be visible following Windows 7 setup.

Streamline Setup Reduces Startup

Streamlining the Windows Startup is was also a user request, Mayo says.

"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."

In the past, Microsoft defended itself against anti-trust allegations by arguing that it couldn't possibly separate Internet Explorer and its Windows operating system because the two shared too much code. However, due to popular demand, the company has gone a long way to disentangling its browser and its operating system; although they still share code, it's much less than ever before.

In essence, the decision to de-select Internet Explorer 8 is an entirely new philosophy for a company that has long proselytized that an Internet browser is a critical component in an operating system and must be available from installation.

Microsoft has trimmed other features in trying to make this the leanest and meanest OS yet. Gone are programs for photo, email, and movie-making purposes. These will instead be offered as separate Windows Live downloads. (Source:

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