March 10, 2009

A Windows Without Internet Explorer

I probably missed out on the news last week, while I was on holiday, but I haven't seen this reported a lot. You'll be able to remove features from Windows 7, including lots of things I don't use and want, like Internet Explorer.

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...





 

15 Comments

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

I, for one, am glad they're making it hard to remove
them, even as they're making it possible.

Beyond Compare, a Delphi app through-and-through, uses
both Internet Explorer's and Media Player's APIs.  We
use IE to display HTML content, for HTTP support
(check for updates and soon HTTP comparisons), to
automatically detect file encoding, and for font
linking (displaying multiple fonts for Unicode text).
 Media Player is used to play audio in our MP3
comparison.  Linux's mess of APIs and applications is
definitely *not* better in this regard.  There we
either have to support 2 or more APIs, include
redistributables, find something that we can
statically link to (rare using either Kylix or
FreePascal), or just work around the fact that a
significant portion of the audience won't be able to
use those features.

I honestly don't understand the problems everyone has
with the .NET runtime either.  Do those of you who
object to it avoid the MFC, VB, and Java runtimes too?
 Are you just upset that Borland was never able to
convince MS to include the Delphi VCL packages as well?
Comment by Craig Peterson [http://www.scootersoftware.com] on March 10, 20:23

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

Internet Explorer (which I almost never use)

Because you don't know advantages of Internet 
Explorer 8 and the new developer tools. I can show 
you a very good example: 
http://secunia.com/gfx/Secunia2008Report.pdf

FireFox. LOL.

The Entire .NET Framework (??!!)

You don't have to be afraid. Of course, 
Microsoft .NET 3.5 will be installed on Windows 7. 
Fortunately, it is for sure that a simple end-user 
won't turn it off.

IIS

It was an optional feature on Vista too.

I've already seen the new .NET 4.0 technologies 
(TechReady DVDs, etc.). Frankly, .NET 4.0 will be 
very hard. Unfortunately, I can talk about these 
because of NDA.
Comment by daywalker [] on March 10, 23:18

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

MS already moved to more "componentized" model with 
Server 2008 - and IIS started to look very "Apachesh" 
with its new "modules" (anyway, IIS is always an 
option) . Being able to install what the user 
actually make the "attack surface" smaller, and 
that's good for a desktop OS too. Also less useless 
services and processes running, saving memory and 
cycles - there's never enough.

Maybe an HTML rendering engine could become an OS 
component, like the RTF control - but a whole browser 
is a different thing. Anyway, relying on IE brought 
its own issues - many times I dreamed a Delphi HTML 
rendering engine I could deploy with my app 
regardless of the version of IE installed on the 
deployment PC...

And to answer to Peterson, yes, I hate VC++ runtimes 
(had nice issues with FSX), VB, especially Java (I 
agree with Ms. Stob: 
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/24/verity_stob_yu
letide_quiz/) and .NET (that is getting as much 
invasive as Java), although there's a big difference 
from some shared DLLs and a whole VM and its 
framework.
Comment by Luigi D. Sandon on March 11, 00:40

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

How about a switch that turns off Windows? 

People do not realize that there are quality options
to Windows. 


Comment by Alan Fletcher [http://www.delphibistro.com] on March 11, 00:53

Response to Craig Peterson 

"I honestly don't understand the problems everyone has
with the .NET runtime either."

1. It slows down the application it runs under.
2. It hides meaningfull errors
3. It's a HUGE download (350MB) + 250MB of Service packs
4. What's the benefit? Besides being one step closer
to M$ able to charge per cpu cycle? The inter-language
compatibility falls far short, and it's not exactly
platorm independant.

In short, .net has all the disadvantages of Java RE,
and none of the advantages.

As for IE 7 or 8, if you've tried to trick these 
non-standard browsers into presenting a web
application correctly, you'll understand. And If I
have to spend another 5 minutes over the phone with
the customer trying to exlain how to get into the IE 7
menu, I'll lose it ;)

FF is light and easy to use and hugely extendable. My
word have you seen those incredible add-ons??
Comment by Hein du Plessis on March 11, 01:02

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

"The Entire .NET Framework (??!!)"

oohhhh....  then you cannot run delphi IDE (for 2005
and above) anymore! lol!
Comment by ahmoy on March 11, 02:41

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

There are LOTS of .NET runtimes and its becoming more.

Let me try get this right:
1.0, 1.1, 2.0, 3.0, 3.5 and soon 4.0 and on and on and on.

If I uninstall an app that also installed a .NET
runtime, it leaves all the .NET stuff it installed on
my drive.

For SURE I shall want to remove unused .NET installs
and all associated stuff (its not just the runtime
files. .NET installs itself into all sorts of corners
of your operating system. You cannot compare a .NET
install to VB, Borland or MFC runtimes.)

Comment by Ken Knopfli on March 11, 11:39

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

At work we use PCs for engineering purposes. One PC
may just sit and control a factory process, say. 

At home I have a stand-alone PC that is used only as a
recording studio. No internet connection, no
messenger, no Media Player, no firewall, no
anti-virus, no nothing.

I have another PC that runs as a video processing
station. No internet connection, no messenger, no
Media Player, no firewall, no anti-virus, no nothing.

Windows is used for things other than only Office,
Internet and games. There are situations where it can
even be problematic having services up and running
that use CPU time or may even interfere with what else
may be running.

Being able to reliably remove unneeded stuff in a way
supported and approved by Microsoft is a welcome
development.
Comment by Ken Knopfli on March 11, 11:50

Response to Hein du Plessis 

1. Wrong / irrelevant.
2. Can you provide examples, please? I would say, it
changes the behavior, perhaps sometimes hiding
something, but sometimes vice versa - showing more
meaningful messages.
3. It's fully optional.
4. Benefit is obvious - much better development
frameworks, which lead to better applications in
shorter time.

And I disagree with "all the disantvages of Java RE,
and none of the advantages". What we have is a huge
number of different versions of JRE, and there are a
lot of Java applications, insisting on exact version
of JRE. And the chaos in different Java frameworks has
not only bright sides.

What concerns "FF is light and easy to use" - looks
like a statement from five years ago ;)
Comment by mikeg on March 11, 12:55

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

i would like to point out that number of browser
vulnerabilties doesn't matter as much as how quick the
problems are fixed. For example if you have 1
vulnerability and patching it takes a year, then your
browser has been vulnerable 365 days in a year. If you
have 100 vulberabilties but they are fixed in next day
then your browser has been vulnerable only 100 days in
a year, making it more secure although it had more
prolems. 
So you shouldn't just look one number, but you should
look what's behind it. 
By the way i think delphi's own html rendering engine
is great idea. It could be webkit based for example ...   
Comment by mart on March 11, 13:04

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

I welcome this move as it is good to be able to decide
what runs or not on your machine. Which is one of the
reasons I moved to Linux+Vmware (for Delphi!) years ago. 

As mentioned earlier, in our Delphi world, that means
that some one (more knowledgeable than me !) will soon
hopefully tackles the task of creating a TWebBrowser
with other rendering engines/js engines. I'd love to
be able to reliably embed FF or Chrome in my apps
instead of Ie6/7

Didier
Comment by Didier [http://www.ogeane.com] on March 11, 13:22

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

I wonder Codegear never implemented an 
html/javascript control based upon Gecko - no need to 
embed "Firefox" - its engine was separately available 
from the beginning. And I'd prefer it over Webkit - 
everything that requires QuickTime has no place on my 
machine ;-)
Comment by Luigi D .Sandon on March 11, 17:06

Response to mikeg 

Hi Mike :)

1. Have you compared SQL Server 2000's interface with
2005's? 2005's a .Net product. Every .net version of
software is slower. I can give you many other examples.
Anyway, .net sits between the code and the cpu, so you
might as well code in VB, also an interpreted
language, not native like Win32.

2. I can't think of the exact wording now, but I've
seen unhandled errors on .net applications just saying
something about a framework error, in stread of out of
disk space, resources, persmission error, whatever.

3. It's mandatory for SQL Express. My point is why
these downloads with no benefit for the developer /
end user?

4. VB users upgrading to .net version had to recode
everything. Even Delphi users going to .net had to
record a lot to be complient. And even then, there are
differences between Framework 1, 2, 3 and the upcoming
4, not all backwards compatible. So nothing's changed,
except now even Delpgi developers have to rewrite
their code as new versions come out. Even the claim
that many languages can be used in the same project is
not really valid, getting a VB user and a C# user to
work on the same project it just not worth while. As
for standards, Win32 standards are 10+ years old.
Unchanged.

Regarding java - sure it's got problems, but .net has
the same (compatibility) problems, to a lesser degree
admitadly. But at least Java code can run on any OS.
That's worht the trouble over and over. I still don't
see any advantage for .net, sorry!

About FF, that's different discussion, but original my
points still stand.

Happy to take this offline: taqyon@gmail.com. Please
convince me.
Comment by Hein du Plessis on March 11, 18:32

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

 They still make IE?
Comment by Rich on March 11, 21:19

A Windows Without Internet Explorer 

 I dont like Internet Explorer and i never use it. I 
use Pale moon browser Firefoxs open source and 
Chromium most of the time. True,I also have Aol 
Explorer the old 2006 version,Deepnet Explorer and 
Pink browser which have Internet Explorer Engine but 
are not part of IE. recently I deleted my Internet 
Explorer File by over riding the TRUSTED INSTALLER 
settings. And so I was able to delete all but one of 
the INTERNET EXPLORER file contents on my hard drive. 
And my computer,Windows update including Aol Explorer 
and Deepnet Explorer still work and so does everything 
else on my laptop. so it is not true that windows runs 
off of Internet Explorer but that a Windows piece of 
software is built into Ie and that was probably the 
one item on the Internet Explorer file that would not 
delete. So browsers like Avant browser that are said 
to be Ie shells are NOT running off of IE but a 
windows component. So my computer is better without 
Internet Explorer and I do not miss it one little bit. 
I have Windows 7 by the way and it would be better to 
install a Windows computer with Firefox or Google 
Chrome as these are safer and more secure for browsing 
and work better. i dont see why we have to have 
Internet Explorer at all on a Windows PC. Andrea
Comment by Miss. Andrea Borman. [http://www.hezbollahandrea7.net] on October 4, 15:27


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