'N' to mark Windows without Media Player

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to tag an "N" to the name of the Windows XP versions without Windows Media Player that it was ordered to offer in Europe.

The European Commission chose the names "Windows XP Home Edition N" and "Windows XP Professional Edition N" after rejecting Microsoft's first choice, "Windows XP Reduced Media Edition," as unappealing.

The Commission a year ago ordered Microsoft to ship a stripped down version of Windows XP as one of the remedies in the European antitrust case against the software maker. By including Windows Media Player in Windows, Microsoft gained an unfair advantage over competing media players, the Commission said.

Microsoft is not completely happy with the name chosen by the Commission, but will adopt it to help its case along, company spokeswoman Stacy Drake said on Monday.

"We have some misgiving about the chosen name as we think it could cause confusion for consumers, but we are going to adopt their name in an effort to move forward," she said.

After Microsoft's first suggestion was rejected, the company about two months ago suggested nine additional names for the Media Player-less version of Windows XP. The Commission shot all those down and last Thursday told Microsoft that it wanted an 'N' tagged to the product name, Drake said.

Microsoft is working to include the new name in the product, which it first made available to PC makers several months ago as Windows XP Reduced Media Edition. The product will also be available in retail stores.

However, the debate over the special Windows version is not over yet. Competitors have complained that Microsoft has tweaked the special version of Windows so it won't work well with their applications. Microsoft is working with the Commission on that issue, according to Drake.

Microsoft and the Commission are also at odds over Microsoft's compliance with other parts of the Commission's judgment. The Commission earlier this month said that it was not satisfied with the terms Microsoft proposed for allowing programmers to license protocols that allow them to develop products that interoperate well with Windows. The Commission is the European Union's executive body and antitrust authority.

Microsoft has to come up with better licensing terms for its workgroup server protocols, or face the possibility of financial penalties that could be up to 5 percent of its worldwide daily sales.

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