Is Windows 7, or the release candidate, really responsible for changing your default browser settings? Yes, it is. But the bigger question might be – is it really that big of a deal? I tend to be of the mind that this entire issue is completely overblown. First of all, one could always do a custom install of the RC and the problem is solved. Second, it is not like taking back the browser settings are really that difficult.
But perhaps there is a larger issue at hand here. Maybe it is a matter of Microsoft making browser decisions that has nothing to do with the operation of the provide operating system? Cannot speak to this myself, I do not use Windows any longer. That said, I can see how current users might feel strongly about this.
Then again, it is still fair to point out that Windows must default to some browser or another. So it stands to reason that they might as well default to the one that is supported by the Windows OS, right? In the end, this is but a RC and not something people are buying pre-installed on their PCs. So trying to debate whether or not Windows 7 changes the default settings at this point might very well be deemed little more than splitting hairs at this point.