Yesterday Microsoft announced that it is planning to ship Windows 7 without IE in Europe, and to offer IE separately.
It’s impossible to evaluate what this means until Microsoft describes — completely and with specificity — all the incentives and disincentives applicable to Windows OEMs. Without this it’s impossible to tell if Microsoft is giving something with one hand and taking it away with the other. For example, if Windows marketing dollars are tied to IE or browser-based programs, then the ties to Windows are still distorting the browser market. One could think of many other examples.
As a result it’s also impossible to tell whether this does anything more than change the technical installation process of the OEMs. It will certainly make life more difficult for people upgrading to Windows 7.