I don't think thats nec~ true, IE is only required in the sense its a dependency for certain apis, so they can provide a html rendering ability without needing to implement a full browser stack theirself (wow imagine that).. ie the browser interface can be
disabled if required.
As for specific cases regarding pre-configured, the biggest most recent stuff was regarding having default search or a default browser at all, but instead giving the users options..
I can see the need to make linux more user friendly, but I find it somewhat ironic that theres yet ANOTHER 'distro' made to attempt this, not to mention the others you pointed out that have tried something similar..
Personally I would of tried to arrange something with ubuntu, and not to get the OS preconfigured in the sense you've gone down, because I'm really not convinced that'll be considered 'fair'.. especially in the world of open source where everyone has their
I'd go as far as saying that in the spirit of open source, pre-configurability (defaults), is really against the idea.. you should be abstracting the configuration of the OS to make it as easy as possible for the user to pick a browser, mail client, etc.. codecs
sure.. most people really shouldn't have to be bothered about that, but preinstalling codecs doesn't really warrant another distro, it warrants the media layer of the OS being able to find codecs for you seamlessly if possible.. (similar to how windows will
take you to a website for information about unknown extensions).