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Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Microsoft hopeful of accord with EU on media-free Windows version

Microsoft said it has agreed to additional European Commission demands concerning a stripped-down version of its Windows software without Media Player, and was optimistic about reaching an agreement with Brussels to market the new product.

"We contacted the commission Tuesday and informed them that we accept a number of its additional requests concerning a new version of Windows" without the Media Player audio and video software, said a Microsoft spokesman.

The European Union executive confirmed that it received a letter from Microsoft regarding "technical aspects" of the new version of Windows. But spokeswoman Antonia Mochan added that the commission needed to study Microsoft's response and had no immediate comment.

Microsoft's spokesman said the company had agreed to do away with any marketing that suggested that the Windows software without Media Player would not function as well as the original version.

Other makers of software that allows computer users to listen to music and watch videos had objected that by including Media Player as part of the Windows operating system, Microsoft made it more difficult for them to sell or distribute their products.

The commission imposed a record fine of 497 million euros (640 million dollars) on Microsoft in March 2004 for anti-competitive behavior and said it had to offer a version of Windows without the media software in Europe.

EU regulators also required Microsoft to make available the information that producers of competing software needed to enable them to operate with Windows.

According to Microsoft, all that remained to be resolved with Brussels were "some technical problems," the spokesman said.

Yesterday the US company headed by Bill Gates -- named by Forbes magazine the world's richest person -- announced that it had agreed with Brussels on a name for the new product by adding the letter N to the stripped-down version of Windows without Media Player.

The new software would be available to consumers as Windows XP Home Edition N or Windows XP Professional Version N.

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