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Browserless Windows 7 refuses to go gracefully

Microsoft said last month that it was scrapping entirely its plans for separate "E" versions of Windows 7. So why are they still listed in their online store?

Microsoft says it doesn't plan to ever ship a browserless "E" version of Windows 7, though that's still the version being offered by many of its European online stores. CNET News

With its plans now centered on creating a ballot screen where users can choose which browsers to install, Microsoft has no plans to ever ship the browserless "E" versions of Windows 7.

Curiously, though, the "E" versions are still listed for sale on several versions of Microsoft's European online store. Nor did the software maker have a clear explanation of why those versions are still listed, weeks after the company said that it would ship the same version globally.

Although the UK site seems to have it right, many of the non-English sites, including Spanish, Dutch, and German versions, list only the "E" or "N" versions of the operating system. As it did with Vista, Microsoft does plan to continue selling an "N" version in Europe, which has the media player removed.

"Microsoft is working to refresh its international online store sites, just like retailers are now," the software maker said in a statement. The fact that the "E" versions were still listed was first noted by enthusiast site AeroXP.

In any case, Microsoft is being clear that it has no plans to ship a browserless version--those that preorder the "E" version will get the standard version.

As first reported by CNET News, Microsoft told computer makers in June that it planned to ship Windows 7 without a browser in Europe to try to address regulators' issues. However, both competitors and regulators expressed concerns with that plan. Ultimately, Microsoft reversed itself and said it was open to the "ballot screen" idea where consumers can choose which browsers they wish to install.

Earlier this week, Microsoft said that it would end on September 1 an offer to European buyers to get the full version of Windows 7 for the upgrade price, a relic of the browserless plan in which Microsoft said it would sell only the full version of the operating system.