EU draft order will demand two versions of Windows, one without Windows Media Player

“Going beyond Microsoft Corp.’s settlement of U.S. antitrust charges, the European Union wants to force the software giant to offer computer makers a version of Windows without any multimedia program to give rival companies a better shot at getting their products on consumers’ desktops, sources said Wednesday,” Paul Geitner reports for The Associated Press.

“Such an order — expected this month barring a last-minute settlement — would be sure to be instantly challenged in European courts by Microsoft. The company insists removing its Media Player program would compromise other parts of its flagship operating system,” Geitner reports.

“Taking out Media Player also could undermine Microsoft’s long-term strategy of keeping Windows on top by incorporating new functions, which it argues benefits consumers. Rivals from Netscape to RealNetworks have repeatedly challenged the practice as unfair competition,” Geitner reports.

“The Commission, which conducted extensive market surveys a year ago, believes many manufacturers — and content providers — are uncomfortable relying solely on Microsoft and so rivals such as RealNetworks’ RealOne player and Apple’s QuickTime would get a better shot,” Geitner reports.

“The EU has already made a preliminary finding that Microsoft violated EU competition law by bundling its multimedia software into Windows, and by failing to provide competitors in the server market with enough programming code to allow their products to operate as well with Windows as Microsoft’s own,” Geitner reports. “To resolve the first abuse, the draft decision sent to national regulators for review last month would require Microsoft to offer computer manufacturers two versions of Windows: one with Media Player and one without, according to sources familiar with the case, speaking on condition of anonymity.”

Full article here.

17 Comments

  1. forcing m$ to bundle quicktime and real would do more good than forcing the company to sell two versions…. bundle iTunes as well ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  2. Frankly, I’d just be happy if MS would rewrite that crap OS so once I tell it that I DO NOT want WMP as default anything it would quit hijacking my media. I’m sure that’s just too difficult a task for their programmers to get correct though (more like Monkey-boy mandates this kind of crap invasiveness and domination).

    Hmmmm… invasiveness and domination… that sounds like Gates’ and Ballmer’s business model.

  3. Microsoft should be forced to produce a bare bones, secure OS so it can’t have an unfair advantage in any emerging new market. However it would take many years to happen.

    1 – They would fight the order in court as long as possible.
    2 – They would take many years to make a secure OS.

  4. Microsoft can’t change their OS, as they can’t write software! They keep hacking up an old program & it’s gone so far, they don’t know what does what. That’s why they won’t release the whole OS code, because they’ll be the laughing stock of the whole world once people see it. I mean, they can’t be worried about people coping it, as who would want too with all the bugs in it? Besides, if they did find out someone stole some code, they�ll have them big M$ lawyers after them, so why bother. It�s definitely the shame & embarrassment factor their scared of & that�s why there�s gonna be a big fight to stop it.

  5. I think they should be forced to bundle all three players and let the user choose which he wants to have as default. I have tried the windows player and have never had as good of quality as with Quicktime. Maybe that would give windoze users a hint as to which is the better OS.

  6. IMHO, this is a bad decision. MS should divorce WMP from Windows. That is it. While it sounds great that MS must bundle rival softwares, MS can still play dirty. I don’t know why people keep trusting Microsoft. There is nothing to prevent MS to give preferences to WMP even if QT and Real are bundled too. There is also nothing that prevent MS from using hidden APIs and OS hooks to give WMP advantages while changing other APIs enough to make QT and Real perform badly.

    The only acceptable solution, again IMHO, is to heavily fine MS (we are talking about billions) for past infractions (Netscape) and force MS to distribute WMP separately, not even on a CD in the same box. Additionally, any API Microsoft uses for WMP must be open to other developers with audits done annually to make sure MS comply. Any failure to do so will result in other heavy fines. MS must also sign an agreement not to bundle applications not on a list of agreed services and terms which is negotiable annually and allows MS to “innovate” without leveraging its OS monopoly.

  7. First off, I want to say that I am a mac fan, so don’t do the knee jerk flame thing. Having said that, I always wondered why no one says anything about how apple bundles so much software, i-tunes, i-photo, i-movie and safari to name a few, that directly compete with third party apps. Isn’t that one of the things that people are alway pointing at ms for as “unfair practices”? Just wondering.

  8. A significant purchase of Macs could mean anything. With a company the size of Fedex, switching their marketing department to Macs could involve a significant purchase.

    It almost surely does not mean servers or mission-critical machines. It’s probably a group of people who receive a lot of email attachments and cannot just delete them without reading them.

  9. just because M$ offers two different packages means nothing. They don’t have to sell much of one at all.

    They can continue to sell the current version and offer the scaled down version. M$ will sell both at about the same price and tell customers you can get a lot more for your money with this version.

  10. AL,
    True, and not to mention that MS can pull another Microsoft: Remember when MS offered Windows without IE to settle the Netscape lawsuit and purposely broke down Windows so that nobody would use it? They can easily repeat that here.

  11. “During a closed-door hearing last fall in Brussels, company lawyers argued that the underlying software code for Media Player is also needed for things like the help function, screensaver and the “ping” a computer makes when an email arrives.” – Associated Press

    Hey now… screensavers didn’t exist before WMP. It was just in our imagination. Moreover, the best of Microsoft coders can’t produce a simple “ping!” without needing the whole WMP frameworks.

    I hope EU antitrust are at least smart enough to laugh at MS arguments. If I were one of them, probably I would be rolling on the floor throughout the meeting. I don’t know who is stupider, the people who believed it or the people who came up with that defense.

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