For the first time in years, a Windows without a browser (not in all editions, and probably not in OEM versions, but still an improvement), and, as usual, half of the digital world is agitated in both extremes.
Some people are starting to create some kind of fear campaign, as if this was the start of judgement day or something. Some trying to scare people, some just providing Powershell scripts to download IE8, but in general doing everything except just say "download your favourite browser and store it before installing Win7 when it arrives".
C'mon, who doesn't have today a usb drive or a DVD-ROM to download their favourite browser? And even in that strange case, who doesn't have internet at work, or can't buy a magazine with the latest xxx browser version, or ask a friend for the browser?
And anyway, why don't using any browser to download and isntall IE8 if that's what you desire? Remember that along too many years we've had to do the opposite, use IE to download other browsers, without the option of removing then IE from our machines?
Does anyone really think that all major browsers are going to skip this opportunity to flood every possible place with free CDs containing their browser? I would do it if I were Mozilla, Microsoft... even Apple (to try to get any Safari user under Windows) or Opera.
For me, this is a win for freedom. Even if as it will probably happen the browser will still be inside the OS, having the freedom to instal whatever browser I want and forgetting about tricky apps or situations in which IE tries to get control back is an improvement.
Nobody forbids you from installing IE8 if you want to use it. And probably we will now get computers with all two-three major browsers installed (IE8-Firefox-Chrome), because the world of the OEM OS is a dark and tricky one. Did you knew that Dell doesn't provides on their website drivers for XP for all of the pcs they sell with Vista, but that if you call or write them they will send them via email to you? It happened to my sister few months ago.
Also, I'm pretty sure that Windows 7 will have a higher market penetration than Vista had (specially on laptops and netbooks, it's biggest burden), but there is still a huge share of Windows users that still have and will keep their XPs *. Most users will keep using IE because "it's what my PC came with" or because they can't even download a newer version (schools and similar, at least in Spain).
Update: Seems that Microsoft finally accepted the initial proposal, and will ship W7 with IE8 but allowing to remove it at install time or choose another browser. Hopefully this will shut some fanatic mouths...
* Without entering on discussions of if it's reasonable or not, and what part it is because of ignorance, of which I plan to do another post soon.