In compliance with the EU's recent monopoly ruling, Microsoft is set to start shipping a version of its operating system without Windows Media Player in the European Union on 15 June.
The EU forced the software vendor to start offering the XP Home Edition 'N' and XP Professional 'N' versions of Windows as punishment for anticompetitive practices.
Without the provisions Microsoft could use its dominant position in the operating system market to gain market share by pre-installing its player, according to the EU. But the measure is generally considered to be ineffective at accomplishing that goal.
Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, told vnunet.com: "This reflects the fact that the EU does not understand what it is trying to accomplish."
Computer manufacturers and consumers can still choose between the 'N' and the regular version of Windows. The media player has become a standard, and a system that lacks it will be unable to access some websites.
Few manufacturers will therefore ship their systems with the stripped version of Windows XP. "Some may do it for the publicity," suggested Enderle.
Microsoft will also use its Windows Update service to entice users to install the Windows Media Player every time they download patches. "By the end of the [first] week you are still going to have it," said Enderle.
In addition to mandating the stripped operating system, the EU required Microsoft to give guarantees for interoperability between its software and competing products as well as a royalty structure for licensing protocols for use in non-Microsoft products.
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