For years Microoft has been telling us that Internet Explorer was an integral part of the OS and could not be removed, but it appears they may be changing that stance. A leaked build of the latest Windows 7 build, 7048, shows a way to disable IE8 in the Remove Windows Features dialog (above), according to two separate reports.
This panel exists in prior versions of Windows, and not just 7, and allows users to remove Games and other extraneous Windows Features. But of course, never IE, until now.
It's possible this option, absent in the public beta build of Windows 7, build 7000, was put there because of the recent complaints from the European Union that bundling a browser into the operating system violates antitrust law. Wait, wasn't that a U.S. complaint in 1996, later dropped?
Of course, Build 7048 isn't public, but be real: a little sniffing around some BitTorrent sites and you can easily find it. Don;t get too excited yet; this is not the final release, and Microsoft might remove this function from the final, released version of Windows 7.