Microsoft is to strip its Internet Explorer browser from the new version of its Windows 7 operating system that it sells in Europe, the company announced on Thursday.
Microsoft said the move was designed to meet criticism from European Union (EU) regulators who have launched an investigation into whether bundling the browser with the operating system is in breach of European anti-trust rules.
"Given the pending legal proceeding, we've decided that instead of including Internet Explorer in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately and on an easy-to-install basis to both computer manufacturers and users," Microsoft said in a statement.
"This means that computer manufacturers and users will be free to install Internet Explorer on Windows 7, or not, as they prefer."
Windows 7 is scheduled to be generally available on Oct 22. Ironically, Microsoft is making the changes as rival firms like Firefox, Apple Safari and Google Chrome chip away at Internet Explorer's once unassailable lead.