The Windows 7 folks discuss the decision to make certain programs and features optional. There has been a lot of talk about the recent discovery about Windows Internet Explorer 8 being an optional component in the leaked build 7048 discovered by Chris Holmes and Bryant of Aeroexperience.
Windows Internet Explorer 8, now optional
In Windows 7 we are expanding the number of features you have control over in this regard, giving customers more control, flexibility and choice in managing the features available in this version of Windows. In addition to the features that were already available to turn on or off in Windows Vista, we’ve added the following features to the list in Windows 7:
- Windows Media Player
- Windows Media Center
- Windows DVD Maker
- Internet Explorer 8
- Windows Search
- Handwriting Recognition (through the Tablet PC Components option)
- Windows Gadget Platform
- Fax and Scan
- XPS Viewer and Services (including the Virtual Print Driver)
It is worth describing the details of “remove” since this too is a place where there are engineering and customer decisions to be made. We’ve already seen one decision which is to make sure we keep the features staged for future use so that a DVD is not required. A second decision is that we also continue to support the APIs available for features where these APIs are necessary to the functionality of Windows or where there are APIs that are used by developers that can be viewed as independent of the component. As many of you know these are often referred to as “dependencies” and with Windows the dependencies can run both internal to Windows and external for ISVs.
This brings up the question, how will Windows components and services in the past that have depended on IE work, such as Windows Update for instance? I personally don’t know if the OS doesn’t still require such a policy or Internet Explorer 8 in Windows 7 RC is just a hidden feature. What it suggest though is that Windows 7 is a more open platform to competing solutions that have come with the OS for years. Personally, I think its a good decision, in particular for the systems I plan on running Windows 7 on depending on the SKU I purchase. Do I want Windows 7 Professional on all my PC’s, yes, but do I really need all the features on all the PC’s, probably not. So the idea of having the user pick and choose is a great thing. I have Windows 7 Ultimate on a AMD Sempron, 512 MBs of RAM, a very bare bones system, personally, I use it for nothing more than Email, casual Web surfing and Backup, I don’t even have speakers connected to it, so in addition to reducing disk foot print by removing certain features like Media Center, XPS Viewer and Media Player, I can also improve the systems performance even more.