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EC-Ordered Edition of Windows XP to Debut this Month

The versions of Windows XP stripped of Windows Media Player to comply with a European Commission order will start shipping this month, Microsoft said this week.

CDs for the two new products, Windows XP Professional Edition N and Windows XP Home Edition N, were provided to the EC last week. Microsoft on Wednesday publicly laid out a plan for rolling out the editions across European Union countries over the next month and a half. The editions will not be sold outside Europe.

On June 15, the products will be available to computer manufacturers in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Those versions will be available to other distribution channels, including the retail and volume licensing channels, on July 1.

Also on July 1, computer makers will receive the remaining language versions, which are Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish. Other distribution channels will get those editions July 15.

Boxed versions of the N editions include a red star in the upper right-hand corner that reads in large letters: "Windows XP Professional Edition N" or "Windows XP Home Edition N." In smaller print within the star, both say: "Not with Windows Media Player."

Microsoft and the EC fought over the order to release the version, what to call it and how to price it since the commission ended a five year investigation with its order in March 2004. The EC order, designed to protect competition in the media player market, was supposed to be implemented within 90 days, a deadline that passed a year ago.

Lawyers for Microsoft won a delay by appealing both the order to create an edition of Windows XP without the media player and another order to disclose interfaces with Windows clients to competitive makers of workgroup servers. Microsoft did not appeal a fine of about 500 million Euros; instead the company paid that immediately.

The flap over the communication interfaces recently led the EC to threaten Microsoft with fines of up to $5 million per day if it doesn't comply with the order.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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