I probably missed out on the news last week, while I was on holiday, but I haven't seen this reported on the blgos I generally read. According to the Microsft blog "Engineering Windows 7" (the post is at http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/03/06/beta-to-rc-changes-turning-windows-features-on-or-off.aspx) Windows will become a flexible and modular (and modern) operating system. The post shows how you'll be able to remove features from Windows 7, including lots of things I don't use or even want on my PC:

  • Internet Explorer (which I almost never use)
  • Windows Search (which I keep turning off only to find it on again)
  • The Media Player (there are nice ones around)
  • The Entire .NET Framework (??!!) 
  • IIS
  • and many more

I find this revolutionary, as today you have almost no option at all about what to install in the operating system. According to most comments this is the ultimate effect of the long-standing anti-trust process within the EU, and after paying huge fines Microsoft decides to do what it was asked to do years ago (and pretended to be impossible!).

You might like it or not. Not knowing what is installed on a computer might make your installation and support efforts more complicated. The blog post claims the underlying APIs will be available. I can understand some of the HTTP support from Internet Explorer, but if you remove .NET I guess .NET applications simply won't run.... while your Delphi applications will keep going... 

I certainly like this change a lot, both for practical reasons (as much as I'm happy with the Microsoft operating system, I like to keep it in a "vanilla" version, and use third party tools) and for theoretical reasons (this is a partial end to a de-facto monopoly that could bundle and "impose" any application along with the operating system, to the detriment of any other competitor), even if this took way too many years to happen.

There is one thing (from the article) I don't buy, which is that they want to install everything and let you remove features, rather than having pre-packaged versions ("vanilla", "web client", "all server", "full power") people can pick when installing, like you do on most Linux distributions. It is too obvious that forcing to install first and uninstall next is a way to minimize the impact of this change, as most users won't realize they can remove things. I still suspect we'll see version of Windows from hardware vendors with a different browser installed by default. So, if Mozilla and Opera originated this, Google (who recently joint them in the European antitrust effort) could be the ultimate winner. Time will tell...