January 28, 2005 6:24 PM PST

Regulators tell Microsoft there's plenty in a name

Microsoft has agreed to rename the new slimmed-down version of Windows it's preparing to release in Europe, after antitrust regulators there balked at the title.

Microsoft announced last month that it intended to use the name "Windows XP Reduced Media Edition" for the program, which has, by order of the European Commission, been stripped of the Media Player that's usually included.

The Commission was concerned that the name would undermine its order by turning consumers off to the new version of Windows and prompting them to stay with the current version, according to reports. So Microsoft is ditching the name and is now busy coming up with a new one, Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said Friday.

"The Commission has requested that we change the name from the original suggestion," Drake said. "While we believe this name complies (with the commission's orders), we have agreed to make the change. We're working together with the commission to come up with an alternative name."

A representative for the Commission was not immediately available to comment. Recently, however, a Commission representative had threatened further fines if Microsoft did anything to make the new product unattractive, according to several news reports published Friday.

The uninspired name was likely a reflection of Microsoft's feeling about the new product, which the Commission ordered it to release last year as part of the antitrust sanctions it imposed after finding Microsoft guilty of abusive business practices. The Commission also fined the company $648 million.

In addition to lacking a copy of Windows Media Player, the new version of Windows won't be able to do things such as play a CD or MP3 file or transfer music to a portable device--at least not without additional software from another company.

"Given the complexity of implementing the remedies, it's not surprising that there will be issues and questions that go along with the process," Drake said. "Microsoft remains fully committed to implementing the Commission's decision and working with them toward that goal."

Nevertheless, Drake defended the company's original name choice, saying it would have accurately conveyed the difference between the two products. Microsoft is working with its partners to release the new program next month, as scheduled, and has already shipped it to some computer makers in Europe, she added.

Microsoft plans to sell the new product in Europe only and charge the same price that the fuller-featured version fetches there. The company also plans to appeal the Commission's ruling but recently decided not to fight a court order requiring immediate compliance with sanctions, after losing a bid to delay them.

CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.

46 comments

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Unattractive?
"However, a commission representative recently threatened further fines if Microsoft did anything to make the new product unattractive, according to several news reports published Friday."

Um, it's the commission that wanted WMP out of the OS, so the wanted *exactly* a "Reduced Media" version.

Make the OS more unattractive, and the best description of that OS would be less attractive.

While I know some people (not many) that prefer Real or other media players to WMP, I don't know a single one that wouldn't take the verion that at least included WMP. Media player vendors are going to have to shell out big cash to convince an OEM to put on this version of Windows. Hope it's worth it to them.
Posted by KTLA_knew (385 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft apologist...
Quit sympathizing with the convicted predatory monopolist!

This situation is _MS's fault_ my friend. THEY are the ones who
are convicted. THEY are the ones people should be mad about
for any inconveniences consumers/OEMs/vendors suffer due to
_Microsoft's_ illegal and anticompetitive practices.

Get it??
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
strive for attention?
ok, microsoft has been anti-competitive, but this whole EU situation is foolish and repetitive. Windows media player doesnt take much away from real, or any other player. I dont know anybody who uses it, and some of them are extemely "computer illiterate", they use winamp, and if they need real content, they use realplayer, since windows media player doesnt deal with it perfectly anyways, quicktime? I know my windows media player doesnt use it, so why the 650mill fine, does EU just feel left out? come on. and microsofts right to let the customer know that thier OS comes without a media player should be upheld, because I know I wouldent buy something that couldent play ANY media off a fresh install... or maybe, just ask MS to include a prompt during install, "would you like to install Windows Media Player. yes or no" that would be reasonable.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Windows is a distribution channel for a monopoly
"Windows media player doesnt take much away from real, or any
other player. I dont know anybody who uses it"

Doesn't take anything away??, Nobody uses WMP?? REALLY??
I cannot believe you believe that.

WAKE UP. You have no idea what you are saying.

You do understand that Microsoft's Windows has a monopoly
correct? One of the ways MS has created the monopoly is by
using DEFAULT programs, such as IE - instead of Netscape -
and Windows Media Player - instead of Real or QuickTime - as
just a couple of examples. By using a "preemptive" strategy by
using default settings. These bundled app.s that come with a
Monopoly OS in effect cut off competition. Average users (90%)
use their DEFAULTs. Microsoft is well aware of this - that is
exactly thier strategy! It becomes _illegal_ if you are in a
Monopoly position.

The court is saying the ubiquity of the OS - it's monoploy
position - cuts competition as a result of using defaults and
bundling. WMP is the default so most people don't use
competing software, whether or not it is better!

The EU is right on this. You are wrong. The US DOJ caved on the
remedy.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
power trip
it seems the EU feels the need to flex it's muscles a bit and do something to benifit themselves. it's funny that here in the states if we don't wish to use Windows Media Player we just don't use it! i personaly use winamp. i'm not sure how the OS is packaged over there so i can't say for sure, but i know that it's not hard at all to get and use a different media player if one choose to. i'm thinking that this is just a way for the EU to make some cash at someone elses expense (thought that only happened here) and to make them feel like they have power over a big corperation. and now they don't like the name Microsoft came up with, maybe if the EU is interested in writing software they should start there own company and come up with an OS on there own, but then it's easyier to order someone else to change things to there likeing. come on people!! there is enough sillyness in the world as it is! let's not add anymore!!
Posted by (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
what it's all about
Obviously you don't understand the effects of bundling on the marketplace.

Window is an OS.
Media player is a separate product.
IE is a separate product.
office is a separate product.

When you bundle products togeather and say it's "part of the OS" the consumer becomes afraid to change things. The fear loosing suport for their system. They fear messing things up so nothing works.

I've supprted home users for many years now (14+) and the recurring theme ever since the bundling started is "Will X break my system?" replace x with netscape, mozilla, eudora, winamp, etc.

This is literally a forced feeding.

If MS sold a barebones windows, the cost for that product would be SIGNIFICANTLY lower since it doesn't include the cost of writing IE, outlook, wordpad, antivirus, etc, etc, etc. The core system makes up a small portion of the total cost.

To rephrase WHY the EU is forcing this: By bundling applications with the OS Microsoft is forcing consumers to pay for things that they will not use.

This would be like being forced to pay extra for leather, dolby digital stereo, 180mph tires, and a turbocharger on a dinky econobox that can't really make use of them. Do you REALLY need all that stuff when you just need the basic car? What if the basic car is all you can afford? What do you do then? Get trained on how to drive a mac truck because some company down the road is giving them away? End result, it's the cost. MS has driven up the cost with it's tying of products to the OS.

It's all about protecting YOUR rights to pay for what you are going to need and use.

If you still don't understand why the EU is doing this... well, let's just say I hold no hope for you becoming an educated consumer.
Posted by ahzzmandius (30 comments )
Link Flag
Look at IE.
When Microsoft bundled IE with Windows it effectivly ended the browser wars. A lot of people will say that anybody can go download another browser. You don't have to use IE. Well that kind of thinking is right and wrong. Sure anybody can use another browser like Firefox/Mozilla, Netscape, Opera, and Safari, but how many sites won't work with other browsers? How many Windows servers scrambles HTML code when viewed in non-IE browsers?
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft should rename regular Windows...
...Ms Windows Spyware Edition.
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good idea!
Since we're going to change the name, we should also change
the names of some other features:
* Plug-and-maybe-will-play-or-crash
* Security leakage Centre
* Not-so-intelligent-"unknown device"-assistant
* Forced Windows pop-ups with unhelpful information
* Visual Insecure Basic
* Guaranteed monthly leaks so our monthly security patches will
be useful.

And the "XP Home Edition" should be renamed "XP Clipped
Edition"

By the way, why does the WMP-less version cost the same as the
bloated version? I'd like to get a discount for not having that
extra program.
Posted by (3 comments )
Link Flag
Switch to Linux
Only when Linux rules the OS market will the Microsoft problem go away. MS just can't help themselves with breaking the law and I blame the US government for that. By not punishing MS enough, MS considered it worth it to continue their monopolistic practices. At least the EU shows authority and will not be influenced by campaign money and the like.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sure
Sure, switch to linux and have fun running crap software. Even if you find something worth a spit to run it will crash and burn like a mac. No thanks linux, I tried it for two weeks with nothing but issues.
Posted by (35 comments )
Link Flag
Hi this is Linux
I appologise for your experience.
I suggest plugging the PC into the socket. Give it a try. Let us know how you got on.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How about this?
Instead of "Reduced Media Edition", which implies no multimedia at all, call it "Open Media Edition", which implies you can use any media player you like.
Posted by cbiltcliffe (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's a good one
This one is not negative en describes what it is. I'd vote for this
name.
Posted by (3 comments )
Link Flag
Open? Que?
How is either version of Windows any more "open" to install media players than the other version? The name is useless in a description of the functional differences from the other version.

An accurate name like "Reduced Media Edition" will not disuade anyone that wanted that version of Windows to get it. If an OEM installs another media player on this OS (not likely that any will ship this OS) they will tout that media player.

It is literally, and very specifically, the correct name for the product. Unless you want to call it "Non-media Capable Edition", since it can't play audio or video media. People that consider graphic files in the bin "media" would be upset, since it *can* display them. Most people refer only to audio and video these days, though.
Posted by KTLA_knew (385 comments )
Link Flag
Hmm
Salesman "And it comes with Windows XP Open Media Edition."

Customer "What does the Open Media Edition mean?"

Salesman "It doesn't come with a media player, but you can buy real player to add to it."

Customer "What about the normal version? How much does it cost?"

Salesman "Umm, the same price."

Customer "Oh, in that case I want the full version."


Yeah, this is gonna work.
Posted by (3 comments )
Link Flag
yes that's good
Nice name. Accurate and not negative.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Name Should be OK...
... as long as they rename the original version "Microsoft Windows: Scorched Earth Edition"
Posted by nealda (105 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wow.....???
First and foremost; if you can't choose your default Media Player perhaps you should be using a computer.
All Linux/Mac/MS choices aside; we all realize that this a pretty bold fine (personally I would pull out of the European market altogether and take my fiscal loss rather than be raped of 750 million dollars to a money hungry EU). I do not remember being offered only QuickTime and iTunes via Apple. Several Linux distos. offered only one media player by default, with no lawsuits in sight I would see this as being a biased court decision.
I would also think that many users in the EU would be illerterate enough to not be able to install an outside version. This is the equivalent of buying a Chevy car, then filing a lawsuit because you do not have the option to put Ford seats in them out of the factory.
Posted by brilo (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I would tend to agree...
> This is the equivalent of buying a Chevy car,
> then filing a lawsuit because you do not have
> the option to put Ford seats in them out of
> the factory.

It seems, though, that if Chevy should happen to become popular enough in Europe - and grab enough of a marketshare - that they'll also be sued and be forced into selling a version of their product that doesn't have any seats at all.

Gee - what an incentive to succeed.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
Reduced Media?
How about calling it Microsoft Windows Open Media Edition?
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oops
Should have taken the time to read ALL of the posts before adding my duplicate wisdom. Sorry.
Posted by (4 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Poor Logic (David Neal)
I admit that my reply "I prefer an OS that's intuitive" was less than complete. I was addressing the Linux / Win XP issue.

To address the Mac / Win XP issue, I would also add that I prefer that the OS run 90% of the most popular software and that it run on a new computer that costs $500.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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