So Windows 7 has just appeared in online stores for pre-ordering. The pre-order deal is also very competitive. Except, it was. The news was announced yesterday and I jumped on to Amazon to get some prices and they were about £80 for the Home Professional version. Amazon have since mailshotted customers announcing the news, headling a price of £44.97, which I suspect is for the Home Premium version.
However, clicking through or searching for Windows 7 in Amazon now displays nothing more than a “Be notified when this product becomes available” message, alongside a reminder about the limited time period.
European users should look closely at the box, though. We’re special, because we get a special version, “Windows 7 Home Professional E”, “Ultimate E”, etc. The “E”, I guess, stands for “Europe”. In the top left hand corner of the box is the message “Windows 7 Home Premium E: Requires a web browser to access the Internet. Internet Explorer not included*”.
This is doubtlessly down to the European Union’s aggression towards Microsoft. Rightly or wrongly, Europe has an axe to grind where Microsoft are concerned. Citing anti-competitive practices, they have caused the creation of special SKUs particular to the European market with no Media Player before now, but now with no web browser.
Several questions jump out at me.
In the age of the connected operating system, what use is there in an OS with no web browser? The first thing a user typically does when they install a new OS is to jump on the Internet to download updates, install the latest drivers for hardware or just browse around while the OS completes its installation work. Doesn’t look like this will be possible for us.
If there is no browser in the box, how do you download a browser, without a browser? Maybe there is a splash screen that allows you to download a browser from a finite list of “approved” browsers such as Internet Explorer or Firefox. Isn’t this “approved list” just as anti-competitive?
Local, off-line content may need a web browser just as much as an Internet connected machine. Many software applications use the IE component in particular to display help information, or enhanced splash screens/dashboards. How will these programs work, if at all? Just because you may not be on the Internet, doesn’t mean you don’t need a web browser. How can a user install a web browser to facilitate this function with no Internet connection?
This really winds me up. This will only cause slower browsers like Firefox to become more popular and increase the variety of browser standards which will mean compatibility with systems and web sites can only get worse, which is annoying after Microsoft have done so much to improve issues with IE 8. An end user is not going to know the value of IE over Firefox, Chrome over IE or some open source browser some geek has coded in his bedroom over a reputable, supported browser. They want to use their computer to get on the internet, fast.
This is typical European legislation getting in the way of common sense. It makes me want to vote for the BNP and reduce their effects, though common sense and basic intelligence means I won’t do this. What is their next step? After removing Media Player, and now Internet Explorer, will they remove Windows Explorer – after all if it is the default GUI/shell then isn’t that anti-competitive?
As an aside, I noticed yesterday Ultimate edition was down as a “notify when becomes available” whereas the lower-end SKUs were available for pre-order. I do hope Ultimate will have a price before the reduced prices expire, otherwise they may raise the prices, then release Ultimate for purchase meaning those who want Ultimate have to pay full price, or twice for Professional version then use the AnyTime upgrade path to get to Ultimate.