EU: Remove Media Player from Windows

A European court has denied Microsoft's request to suspend antitrust remedies levied by the EU last March, ordering the company to immediately ship a version of Windows without its bundled media player. The WMP-free versions of Windows XP Home and Professional will tentatively go by the moniker "Reduced Media Edition," BetaNews has learned.

The new Windows XP RME will ship to European OEMs in January and make its way to retail outlets by February. Pricing will remain the same as current Windows XP editions, Microsoft says.

As part of the ruling, Microsoft must also begin licensing communications protocols from its Windows Server line to third parties. The company is expected to establish a Web site Wednesday for this purpose.

Microsoft was granted an initial stay of the remedies last June, but European Court of First Instance judge Bo Vesterdorf said that Microsoft failed to prove its claim of impending harm. "The evidence adduced by Microsoft is not sufficient to show that implementation of the remedies imposed by the Commission might cause serious and irreparable damage," the court said in a statement.

Microsoft has not yet decided if it will appeal the ruling, but noted the court agreed Redmond's arguments were "well-founded" and that it could win in a full appeal.

"While we had hoped that the Court would suspend some or all of the remedies in the case, we are encouraged that the Court has recognized that Microsoft has a number of powerful arguments that must be considered in the full appeal," the company said in a statement.

"We believe that the code removal remedy, obliging Microsoft to release a degraded version of the Windows operating system, will be harmful to consumers and competition and undermines the technology integration that has been the backbone of the IT revolution over the past 3 decades," Microsoft said.

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