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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp is developing a feature in its new operating system that allows users to turn off Internet Explorer and other key Microsoft programs.


The new feature is a major step for the world's largest software company, which has been accused by competitors and regulators of forcing consumers to run its own software, squeezing rivals' offerings out of the marketplace.


"In addition to the features that were already available to turn on or off in Windows Vista, we've added the following features to the list in Windows 7," said a Microsoft blog, listing Internet Explorer 8, Windows Media Player and a host of other Microsoft programs.


The publicly available blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/03/06/beta-to-rc-changes-turning-windows-features-on-or-off.aspx) was written a manager in the team developing Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system, which will replace the unpopular Vista early next year.


The new design will make it easier for users to remove any traces of Internet Explorer from their desktop, although the software will remain installed on the computer, and allow them to run other browsers more smoothly.


Last month Google Inc, which recently launched its own Chrome browser, joined the Mozilla foundation, producer of the Firefox Web browser, and Norway's Opera, in protesting Microsoft's dominance in the browser market.


In January, European regulators brought formal charges against Microsoft for abusing its dominant market position by bundling its Internet Explorer Web browser with its Windows operating system, which is used in 95 percent of the world's personal computers.


In the past decade, Microsoft has fallen afoul of both U.S. and European antitrust regulators for bundling key programs with its operating system.


(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Clarence Fernandez.)


(c) Reuters 2008. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.





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