RealTime IT News

Microsoft Sets Release of EU-Compliant XP

After more than a year of wrangling over how to comply with the European Commission's antitrust ruling against it, Microsoft is set to release versions of Windows XP that will satisfy the EC's demands to unbundle Windows Media Player.

Microsoft said the "N" editions of XP are set to be made available to manufacturers on June 15, with retail availability expected on July 1. The company provided the commission with copies of both N products last week.

Microsoft also said Windows XP Home Edition N and XP Professional N will comply with the March 24 EC antitrust ruling. The decision said Microsoft broke European antitrust law governing competition.

As part of the ruling, the EC levied a hefty US $613 million fine against Microsoft and ordered it to unbundled Windows Media Player within 90 days, an artificial deadline which has long since passed.

In March of 2005, Microsoft agreed to a number of compliance items concerning both the design and description of its stripped-down version of Windows without Media Player. Those items included Windows registry setting changes, as well as documentation references that had stated certain products would not work without the Media Player.

As recently as April, the EU warned Microsoft to "urgently" comply with the EC's orders or face punitive action.

Today's announcement of a release date of Windows XP N, however, is only part of the answer to the March 2004 demands.

Beyond just unbundling Windows Media Player, the EC also demanded that Microsoft provide more flexible licensing terms for its system code, which would be intended to promote better competitive interoperability. In April of this year, Microsoft said it had moved closer to meeting that demand.