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Microsoft Schedules EU XP

After more than a year wrangling with the European Union, Microsoft announces the release schedule of a version of Windows XP sans Windows Media Player.
After more than a year wrangling with the European Union, Microsoft on Wednesday announced the release schedule of a version of Windows XP sans Windows Media Player. The scaled-down software will reach computer makers June 15, with retail editions following on July 1.

Dubbed Windows XP Home Edition N and Windows XP Professional Edition N, they won't sport a price break, but will cost the same as the versions with Windows Media Player.

The EU has been after Microsoft to comply with a March 2004 antitrust ruling -- it fined the Redmond, Wash.-based developer 497 million euros last year -- and is in the middle of evaluating Microsoft's proposed changes to the Windows platform. The new Windows XP editions, however, have been approved by the EU.

Initially, only English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish editions will be available, said Microsoft. Two weeks after the first roll-out, however, Microsoft will debut language versions in Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, and Swedish.

In its press release announcing the availability of the N editions, Microsoft couldn't resist one more dig at the EU. "As is the case with existing versions of Windows, computer makers and end users can install other media players with the software," it said.

No computer maker has yet stepped up to say it will offer the stripped editions on its PCs.

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