Microsoft to ship modified Win XP next week

Microsoft will roll out a new version of Windows in Europe next week to satisfy EU antitrust concerns.

Microsoft will begin distributing a modified version of its Windows XP operating system to PC makers in Europe on June 15, more than a year after it was ordered to do so as part of the European Commission's antitrust ruling against the company.

Microsoft was ordered last March to sell a version of Windows XP without its media player software, as part of the Commission's ruling that the software maker abused its "near-monopoly" in Europe to harm competition. By effectively forcing PC makers to include Windows Media Player with every computer they sold, Microsoft gained an unfair advantage over rivals such as RealNetworks and Apple Computer, the Commission said. The Commission is the E.U.'s executive body.

The new software, called Windows XP Home Edition N and Windows XP Professional Edition N, is Microsoft's second attempt to meet the Commission's requirement. It distributed a version of XP to channel partners in January, but the Commission rejected that product as unsatisfactory.

In particular, Microsoft altered registry files in a way that made the operating system work less well with rival media players, the Commission said at the time. It also rejected Microsoft's proposed name for the product, Windows XP Reduced Media Edition, which it found unappealing. The Commission told Microsoft to remove warnings that the new software would not work with some programs.

The latest versions fix those problems, Microsoft said in a statement Wednesday. They will be available to PC makers on June 15 in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, and to other distribution channels, including retail stores, on July 1. Versions in 10 other European languages will be in the channel by July 15, it said.

Microsoft has said the software will cost the same as the "standard" version of Windows XP, which Microsoft will continue to sell. Critics have argued that it should charge less for the versions without Windows Media Player, on the grounds that consumers will not pay more for less software, undermining the ruling.

As with existing versions of Windows, PC makers and end users can install other media players with the new editions, Microsoft said. It provided CDs of the software to the European Commission early last week, it said.

How much impact the new software will have remains unclear. Most big PC makers in Europe said in January that they did not plan to offer the version of Windows without media player, citing the cost of supporting additional products and the weak demand they anticipated from consumers.

A Microsoft spokesman in Europe did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

In the ruling last March, the Redmond, Washington, company was also fined Euro 497 million (AUD$795 million) and ordered to provide interfaces for its workgroup server software to competitors. The company has been haggling with regulators over the terms of its compliance ever since, and the Commission has threatened to fine Microsoft US$5 million a day for noncompliance.

The two sides appear to be inching closer to an accord, however. A week ago, Microsoft submitted a new proposal for compliance that included more flexible terms for its server licensing program. The Commission said it will consult competitors to decide if the efforts are acceptable.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?