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Why I won't be turning off Internet Explorer 8

Will you be turning Internet Explorer 8 off in Windows 7? Don Reisinger won't be and explains exactly why.

Microsoft updated its Windows 7 Engineering blog Friday by discussing its decision to allow users to turn off features in Windows 7. It also released a list of Windows 7 options that can be turned off in the upcoming Release Candidate.

"For Windows 7 we've engineered a more significant list of features and worked to balance that list in light of the needs of the broad Windows platform as well," Jack Mayo, Microsoft's group program manager for the Documents and Printing team, said in the post. "We want to provide choice while also making sure we do not compromise on compatibility by removing APIs provided for developers. We also want to strike the right balance for consumers in providing choice and balancing compatibility with applications and providing a consistent Windows experience."

To achieve that goal, Microsoft has released a screenshot showing what is ostensibly the complete list of features that users will be able to turn on and off in Windows 7. It includes games, an FTP server, Windows Search, and more. But the most important option (and the one that gets the most attention) is the ability to turn Internet Explorer 8 off.

Internet Explorer 8 cannot be uninstalled from Windows 7. According to Mayo, any feature that's turned off "will not be available for use, which means 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," he continued.

That's understandable and a welcome option. I will be turning some features off, like all of Microsoft's media services and a few extras like the FTP server and Tablet PC components, which I won't use any way, but Internet Explorer 8 is a different story altogether.

I'm sure some are excited to see they can finally kill Internet Explorer, but I'm not. I won't be using it, but I won't be turning it off either. Why should I?

I've found that Internet Explorer is one of the worst browsers I've used. On a Windows machine, I use Opera or Firefox, depending on my mood at the time. Internet Explorer stays dormant on my desktop.

So why not just disable it and never look at it again? Because I think it'll be a downright hassle to disable it, and doing so could mean that I'll be forced to go to the "Windows Features" pane and turn it back on when I want to go to one of those annoying sites that works best with Internet Explorer, or to a Microsoft page that requires Internet Explorer to download what I need.

Whether we like to admit it, we still live and play in a Microsoft world. Say what you will about Firefox or Opera and how much better they are than Internet Explorer, Microsoft's browser is still important and still required software if we're running a Windows machine.

And consider the fact that Google (with its 1 percent browser market share with Chrome) joined the Mozilla Foundation (with its 22 percent market share with Firefox) and Opera (with its 0.71 percent market share) last month in condemning Microsoft's 67 percent share. And consider that Google applied for third-party status in European regulators' case against Microsoft for allegedly using Windows as a vehicle to control the browser market, and it becomes blatantly clear that Internet Explorer won't go away with a simple on/off toggle.

Nor should it. Based on what I do with my own computers, I simply don't see any reason to turn Internet Explorer off. I realize the on/off option is a handy tool for some, but for me, it'll just be an annoyance when I'll need the browser. And if I really don't want to use it, why can't I just set Firefox or Opera to my default and never open Internet Explorer? That solves the same basic problem.

Do I like to use Internet Explorer? No. Will I use Internet Explorer in Windows 7? Not unless it's necessary. Will I turn it off? Not a chance. To me, the value of doing so doesn't outweigh the value of just leaving it on my desktop and ignoring it like I do now. You never know when you might need it.

Check out Don's Digital Home podcast, Twitter stream, and FriendFeed.