IE (Internet explore) was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 in 1995. IE is fully integrated into MS operating system. IE has been subjected to many security vulnerabilities such as spyware, adware, and computer viruses. Removing Internet Explorer does have a number of consequences. Applications that depend on libraries installed by IE will fail to function, or have unexpected behaviors. A just-leaked build of Windows 7 lets users remove Internet Explorer (IE), the first time that Microsoft has offered the option since it integrated the browser with Windows in 1997.
Build # 7048 of Windows 7, Microsoft added the ability to safely remove Internet Explorer 8 from Windows. Microsoft does not allow the dependencies to be removed through this process, but the Internet Explorer executable (iexplore.exe) is removed without harming any other Windows components.
Also, The European Union’s antitrust agency may force Microsoft to include rival browsers in Windows, according to a regulatory filing submitted last week by the U.S. software developer.
I think this option was added in reaction to the EU charges.