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Microsoft: Lots to turn off in Windows 7

In a blog posting, Microsoft notes that it is not just Internet Explorer that can be disabled. In fact, many Windows components can be disabled, should one so choose.

It turns out it is not just Internet Explorer that users will be able to turn off in Windows 7.

In a blog posting on Friday, Microsoft noted that, with Windows 7, customers will have the option of disabling a number of features of the operating system, should they so choose.

Testers had noticed that users of recent Windows 7 builds could turn off the Web browser, in addition to many other things that were already part of a "Windows Features" dialog box. However, in its blog, Microsoft noted that there are a number of things that users could not turn off in Windows Vista, but will be able to in the final version of Windows 7. Among the new options, users will now be able to turn off things such as Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Windows Search, the XPS Viewer and several others.

Windows Features
Build 7048 of Windows 7 includes Internet Explorer as one of many Windows components that can be turned on or off via a Windows Features dialog box.

"If a feature is deselected, it is not available for use," Microsoft said in the blog. "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. These same files are staged so that the features can easily be added back to the running OS without additional media. This staging is important feedback we have received from customers who definitely do not like to dig up the installation DVD."

Microsoft declined to comment on what role, if any, antitrust and regulatory issues played in the decision to expand the number of Windows components that can be disabled. However, a number of the programs on the list are things that have drawn regulatory ire, such as the browser and media player, as well as the XPS technology which has been seen as a rival to Adobe's PDF.

With Windows 7, Microsoft has also stripped several programs out of the operating system entirely. The photo gallery, e-mail, and movie-making programs that had been part of Windows will now be available only as separate Windows Live downloads. With Windows Vista, Microsoft included a version in the operating system, but then offered for download an optional Windows Live service-connected version.