Microsoft agrees to EU's Windows changes

But who would really want 'XP Home Edition N'?

Microsoft has agreed to make all of the main changes to the version of Windows without Windows Media Player requested by the European Commission, the company said yesterday.

The changes to the newly-titled "Windows XP Home Edition N" software include removing all references from retail packages and supporting documents that certain programs won't work with the Media Player-free version of Windows, and development of a software package that will allow consumers to restore the Windows Media functionality if they so desire.

Microsoft sent a letter to the Commission on Tuesday accepting the changes, as part of its ongoing negotiations to comply with antitrust sanctions imposed on it last year, a company spokesman says. The Commission implements antitrust laws on behalf of the European Union member states.

The Commission ruled in May that Microsoft had abused its dominance in the desktop software market to gain advantage in other related markets, such as media players. As part of antitrust sanctions, the regulator ordered Microsoft to distribute a version of Windows in Europe without WMP.

On Monday, Microsoft agreed to name the WMP-free version "Windows XP Home Edition N" at the Commission's request, after its chosen name, "Windows XP Reduced Media Edition," was rejected by the regulator as unappealing.

The software giant has now agreed to make additional changes to appease the Commission. In addition to removing warnings that some programs won't work with the "N" edition, and creation of a new software package to restore WMP functionality, Microsoft also agreed to put back certain registry files related to its media player, the spokesman says.

"Having finally received the commission's feedback on these issues after two months we are working as fast as possible to implement all of these changes," the spokesman says.

Microsoft was also fined €497 million (NZ$903 million) and ordered to open up interfaces for its workgroup server software as part of the antitrust rulings. It is still negotiating with the Commission over licensing terms of the server protocols, which have also come under scrutiny.