Microsoft can pick a fight with just about anyone and expect to come out on top, but when it comes to the European Union, well… it pretty much wins that too.
At least that is our interpretation from the settlement announced yesterday in the case of OS Multinational Vs European continent. What was the beef? Well, it’s pretty well known by now that the EU had taken quite a dislike to the Redmond giant bundling its Media Player application with Windows, saying it was anticompetitive. A slap on the wrist came last year in terms of a £343m fine, and it ordered versions of Windows to be made without the offending software included.
What to call the chopped software also provided many trials and tribulations. The commission rejected 10 Microsoft proposals, including Windows XP Reduced Media Edition (reportedly its first choice and obviously designed to be a big seller?!).
In the end, the EU basically said if you want something done right… and named it itself. The result is "Windows XP N", which stands for “Not with Media Player” (I kidd you not!), and it will come in both Standard and Professional editions.
"We have some misgivings about the chosen name, as we fear it may cause confusion for consumers about the product, but we will adopt the Commission's name in order to move forward and accelerate the pace of the implementation process," said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's head Euro lawyer (bet he’s good).
To be fair the man has a point, the whole thing is a bit of a debacle. The new name is confusing, and who is really going to buy it? If a user doesn’t want to use Media Player he/she just downloads RealPlayer or Quicktime or any of the other hundreds of free options out there instead, it’s not rocket science. And at least the current setup gives customers multimedia access out of the box, which this new version won't.
True, the new ruling does give consumers choice – just not much of one. It’ll be interesting to see how many copies Microsoft sells of “N” in the next 12 months. I’m betting it will not be many…
Both flavours of Windows XP "N" are expected to role out in the next few weeks. Unsurprisingly, promotional package shots are "not available yet".
Microsoft 1 – 0 European Union