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Microsoft Windows XP N Flops 277

Posted by Zonk
from the bad-ideas-follow-bad-ideas dept.
ChocLinux writes "Dell, Lenovo and Fujitsu Siemens have announced they have no plans to pre-install Windows XP N, the version of Windows without a bundled media player that Microsoft released to comply with the European Commission antitrust ruling. It is now almost six months since Microsoft released Windows XP N, and the fact that no-one wants to sell it suggests that this antitrust case may be going the way of the US one. Also, the article raises the question - now that RealNetworks has settled with Microsoft, will anyone bother to complain about this? Of course there's a chance that the EC might bring a new antitrust case against Microsoft, but how much more effective is that likely to be?"
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Microsoft Windows XP N Flops

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  • by Nichotin (794369) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:47AM (#14069808)
    Why didn't the European Union actually solve the problem, by forcing Microsoft to open up Windows Media Video? I think that would be fair instead of unbundling it like this. It does not solve anything, and people who get XP N, will end up installing WMP anyway.
    Oh, and what about the 'real monopoly' in Windows? It is also known as Internet Explorer, and only God knows why EU did not do anything about that when they were at it.
    • by MathFox (686808) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:53AM (#14069831)
      The EC verdict had several points:
      1. A fine of ~500 Million Euro
      2. Windows without media player
      3. Making available documentation for interfaces.

      Microsoft is appealing the verdict and dragging its feet with respect to point 3. We'll need to keep up the pressure on Microsoft, the EU and others to have Microsoft open its interfaces.
      • Windows without a media player and internet explorer solves nothing...hell, even Gnome comes with a built in media player and browser now. Just as the grandparent said, the real problem is the file formats. If WMP played all the open (ie...no charge to Microsoft besides implementing them) file formats right off the bat, and wasn't so obsessed with spreading WMA/V, then it wouldn't be as big a deal. The problem is that since so many Windows users never install new codecs or new players, all they can play bes
    • It is open (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:24AM (#14069895)
      VC-1 is the name given collectively to the WMV/WMA 9 codecs and it's an open, licensed standard just like MPEG-4 or MPEG-2. It's controlled by SMPTE, so MS can't modify the standard without their approval, and license fees are fixed (same thing as MPEG).

      Also what's this IE monopoly you speak of? I'm using Firefox right now in Windows, works great. Windows seems to do nothing to stop it form working, and indeed will make it the default browser, if asked to.
      • When I tried making Firefox the default browser on XP, I discovered that IE still got popped open for a lot of stuff (remember the fiasco with virus-ridden help files? Classic example). This was two years ago (have since Gone Linux) but XP never seemed too happy to completely give up Internet Explorer. Kinda like KDE apps always pop open !"£$% Konqueror.
        • This has NOTHING to do Windows. Instead of the programs you were using requesting the default browser, they just assumed you used IE and opened it.
          • It has something to do with Microsoft when said programs included their office suite. And I'm sure there were some elements of XP that stubbornly stuck with IE, but I can't remember which they were at the moment so don't quote me on that.
      • Yeah, lots of stuff already works on Windows XP in this regard, but only because of the antitrust lawsuits. Microsoft would not have done it on its own. Plus: this is about not bundling a certain brand of Media Player because it will create a de facto monopoly in the media player business... What other media players does the average Joe jave installed? Maybe Real, if it came with some other stuff he wanted installed, and maybe Quicktime for a movie trailer or so. Additional codecs? Theora maybe? Nope. So, w
      • You need to pay attention. It's impossible to install Windows, and nearly impossible to get the Microsoft published updates for their terribly secure OS, without Internet Explorer. It's also nearly impossible to take Internet Explorer out. And any hardware vendor that tried to install Netscape or now Firefox as their default browser or even include it on the desktop as an alternate to Internet Explorer suddenly finds its OEM license prices raised, and threatened by lawsuit if they reveal the predatory prici
        • by tshak (173364) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:56PM (#14071170) Homepage
          It's impossible to install Windows, and nearly impossible to get the Microsoft published updates for their terribly secure OS, without Internet Explorer.

          It's an outrage. You can't update Microsoft's software on 3rd party platforms! To make things worse, Windows update only works on Windows! They force you to use their platform to update their platform! It doesn't even work on Linux!
      • Actually, VC-1 is just the name for the SMPTE-standardized version of the WMV9 and WMV9-Advanced Profile video codec. There isn't any standardized version of WMA (although open source implementations certainly exist).

        You're right on the license fees - one can get those from MPEG-LA without having to get approval, or write a check to, Microsoft directly.
    • The fact that the decision to unbundle Windows Media from the OS does not appear to be working is the best indication that this decision was needed. There has been no choice in the marketplace for so long, Microsoft has used its Windows monopoly to leverage and provide advantage to their products for so long, that there is now a signoficant barrier to entry for competing product to gain and maintain a foothold.
  • Come on... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Inf0phreak (627499) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:49AM (#14069816)
    Who didn't see that coming like a mile away? Windows XP N is a hard sell to say the least. Not only does it cost exactly the same amount of money as regular Windows XP, you will probably also get more support calls from angry costumers who say something along the lines of "why isn't video working".
    • Re:Come on... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by n0d3 (708403) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @07:58AM (#14070075)
      Exactly, it costs the same. And for geeks who want a sleek fast gaming only OS, they most likley use Prof and then nLite to strip everything including IE and MediaPlayer. If it where cheaper, then things would surely be different. OEMS would be more interested (saving 20 bux on the OS for example would allready be ok for them) especially since they can put mediaplayers back optionally. Since their versions usualyl come bundled with a whole bunch anyhow. Now, with the same price, what really is the point?
  • by bheer (633842) <rbheer@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:53AM (#14069830)
    ... and it flopped. *Big* surprise.
  • Some fun facts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:54AM (#14069832)
    /. chose to ignore:
    MS having to offer a version of XP without the media player preinstalled isn't the only outcome of the antitrust case and certainly isn't the most important part, yet /. for the sake of starting a flamewar of course didn't mention anything else.

    First off, people should be aware that MS was also fined 500 million euros, quite a lot of money, wouldn't you agree.

    Second, and probably most important, the EU found that MS is on pupose hindering interoperability between its products and third party products. In essence, they use their monopoly on the desktop, to also sell server software. To counter this MS now has to disclose technical information to its competitors to enable them to compete on an equal footing.
    Now of course MS is trying to give out as little information as possible, but they don't seem to get by with this tactic, which is of course a good thing.

    Third, about the media player. I don't think it's that important if companies actually sell the version without the media player, what is important is the fact that it is now clear that bundling more and more desktop apps in order to utilize a monopoly in one area to get market share in an other one is a no-no.
    • Re:Some fun facts (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      First off, people should be aware that MS was also fined 500 million euros, quite a lot of money, wouldn't you agree.

      To you, me and the vast majority of people, yes, it's a lot of money. But to Microsoft it isn't.

      what is important is the fact that it is now clear that bundling more and more desktop apps in order to utilize a monopoly in one area to get market share in an other one is a no-no.

      And this will do what, exactly? Make them misbehave some other way? Dodge around this particular method of slimin

      • Re:Some fun facts (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mpe (36238)
        Microsoft knows, and has always been able to see, what is "right" and what isn't. But like all large commercial enterprises they don't give a flying fuck about right and wrong.

        Actually corporations are ment to place profit above all else. If the aditional profits likely to result from breaking a law are likely to be greater than the likely losses from fines and lawsuits then they could argue an "obligation" to break the law. Even to treat fines as a "cost of doing business". Note also that lawsuits agains
        • Re:Some fun facts (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Py to the Wiz (905662)
          "Actually corporations are ment to place profit above all else. If the aditional profits likely to result from breaking a law are likely to be greater than the likely losses from fines and lawsuits then they could argue an "obligation" to break the law. Even to treat fines as a "cost of doing business"."

          Using this logic a drug dealer could claim an "obligation" to traffic drugs since if the risk of getting caught was outweighed by the potential profits from selling dope. Similarly, if an athlete thought st
      • Microsofts yearly profit is 10 bn euros, right? 500 million is a lot of money even to them.
    • Re:Some fun facts (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mpe (36238)
      First off, people should be aware that MS was also fined 500 million euros,

      The problem with fining a monopoly is that they can simply pass the costs onto their customers. Unless the fine is large enough to cause Microsoft immediate cash flow problems they are likely to laugh it off.
    • First off, people should be aware that MS was also fined 500 million euros, quite a lot of money, wouldn't you agree.

      I seem to remember a comment on the Daily Show the last MS go around that went somehting like "at that rate, Microsoft will run out of money just 100 years after the earth crashes into the sun."
  • by chub_mackerel (911522) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:54AM (#14069833)

    I suppose there would be no appreciable mass market for a version of windows without IE either.

    It would be nice if one these courts acted with clue and actually addressed the problem and not the symptom. Can you imagine if the AT&T ruling had been "offer phone service without long distance"? Instead, a court with balls actually broke up the old company and prevented the "parent" from competing in the market they had abused.

    Yes, I know that's a gloss/simplification, but the point is that structural wrongs require structural remedies.

    • a court with balls actually broke up the old company

      Do you expect the EC to demand that Microsoft split itelf into smaller companies within Europe?

      Since this is an American company the best they can hope to do is annoy them and hope GWB doesn't retaliate by (say) increasing the import tarif on some european product.

      • The USA would have more to lose by increasing import tariff on European-originated products.

        Like it or not, more products and services come from the US to Europe than go in the other direction, and seeing as the EU do have teeth, it would be incredibly stupid for GWB to get in a tit-for-tat battle over import tariffs that he can't win.

      • I think Microsoft should have taken their ball and gone home. If the EU doesn't want a MS "monopoly" in Europe, Microsoft should just say "ok" and not sell anything at all. Two weeks of that, and the EU would be *begging* for copies of Windows and Office.

        What bothers me the most is that Europe isn't full of morons, it's not stupid. But where's their computer industry? Where's Europe's OS? They were totally asleep during the entire computer revolution, and *now* they want involvement in the industry? Y
    • Of course, if you look what happened to ATT, the breakup served to enormously increase the scope of the markets the new fragments of the company were in. They quickly grew to be as big as the original, and have since started merging back together into a company that will dominate far more of the industries.

      Breaking up a monopoly doesn't have the effect a lot of people seem to think -- it briefly opens up the market to greater competition, but a company that is in a monopoly position, unless granted it by th
      • Not to mention that IE/WMP are tied into Microsoft Update, along with Windows and Office. Yes, a few other companies offer automatic updating of everything (And OS X does the same with all Apple applications), but the fact that by default all the bundled apps are kept up to date without big dialogs going "New version! Update now!" is handy for stopping those bloody family members complaining.
        • Not to mention that IE/WMP are tied into Microsoft Update, along with Windows and Office. Yes, a few other companies offer automatic updating of everything (And OS X does the same with all Apple applications), but the fact that by default all the bundled apps are kept up to date without big dialogs going "New version! Update now!" is handy for stopping those bloody family members complaining.

          You mean like "apt-get" does. Also Windows Update isn't big dialogue box free anyway. If anything a random pop up
      • Consumers do not like what Microsoft offer they buy it because there is no realistic alternative.
        • The problem with your claim is that the GP (and this story as a whole) refute that.

          The EC's plan with XP N was that some player vendor (like, say, Sony) would pay OEMs to ship XP N + some version of their player and make money of an ad stream, an upgraded version, or some other source (CD sales, for instance). That's how shovelware works.

          In this case, though, that didn't have the expected outcome. Real, Sony, others...none of them ever took up the gauntlet. Why?

          There are several possible reasons.

          (1) Consu
      • by Malor (3658)
        A Microsoft breakup wouldn't be like AT&T. It was split into seven regional phone monopolies... it was so enormous, so vast, that breaking it up just made smaller monopolies. And the barriers to entry for competitors were very high, so the newly-freed subsidiaries were able to learn how to compete again without facing that much local pressure. Millions of miles of wire, built up over a hundred years or so, is a pretty powerful competitive advantage.

        Microsoft would become two monopolies if it was brok
    • I suppose there would be no appreciable mass market for a version of windows without IE either.

      I'd buy it

      As long as the functionality (Help, Windows Explorer, etc) worked as well, I could deal with IE not being there.

  • by cyberjessy (444290) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:59AM (#14069847) Homepage
    Also, the article raises the question - now that RealNetworks has settled with Microsoft, will anyone bother to complain about this?

    Complain about what?? Is Microsoft to be blamed for companies refusing the carry Windows XP-N? Sometimes I wonder why submissions are worded just to make it through the Slashdot Editors.

    I have also wondered why a company should be penalized for including a web-browser and a multimedia player. Every modern OS has one built in. But then, it could be just my biased viewpoint.
    • They could complain to Dell, HP et al. and not necessarily Microsoft themselves since as you say, they don't really have much to do with this.
    • by DrSkwid (118965) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:19AM (#14069880) Homepage Journal
      > Every modern OS has one built in.

      That's not true.

      Mac & Windows have them built in, but they are a minority.

      Which, pray, is the built in Web Browser for OpenBSD 3.8 ?

      How about Solaris 10 ?

      What Media Player does FreeBSD ship with ?

      • I can remove all of Safari and my Macs keep working just fine. To do the same with IE is difficult, if not impossible.
        • by macpeep (36699) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @07:13AM (#14069988)
          Incorrect.

          The situations is exactly identical on Mac and on Windows. On Mac OS X, the web browser (HTML redering) functionality is WebKit and Safari is just a thin GUI shell around it. In the same way, IE is just a thin GUI shell around the web browser (HTML rendering) functionality embedded into the OS.

          If you remove the IE shell, nothing will break in Windows. However, if you remove the HTML rendering capability lots of things will break. In the same way, if you remove Safari nothing will break in OS X but if you remove WebKit, tons of things will break. There's a HUGE amount of applications that rely on WebKit!!

          Of course Slashdot readers often overlook this fact because they think it's cool to bitch about Microsoft.
          • I really didn't know that, thanks! So my comment is nonsense.
          • The difference, plain and simple, between Microsoft and Apple is that Microsoft is a monopoly and Apple is not. Legally they bear different burdens.

            Apple has Safari/Webkit bundled with the OS, but as they only have single digit market share this bundled applications can not be used to twist anybodies arm. They can't make proprietary web extensions that fail to render on other peoples browsers, no developer would use them.

            Microsoft, on the other hand, is the clear market leader. They can add some wonderf

            • Actually, Apple is a monopoly in a stronger sense than Microsoft is. Microsoft was found to have pricing power in the market for PC-compatible operating systems, even though it has nominal competitors. (Antitrust law kicks in when a company has the power to control prices, not when it is the only provider.) Apple is the sole provider of operating systems for the most recent Macintoshes, and has both pricing power and complete market penetration.
      • > Every modern OS has one built in.

        That's not true.

        Mac & Windows have them built in, but they are a minority.

        Don't be dense. Given the context of the subject we're definitely talking about consumer OS's. Every modern OS for the demographic that is relevant to the topic at hand has a bundled media player, web browser, file exporer, and all sorts of things that make a computer useful to consumers.
    • What Microsoft should be penalized for with regards to the browser is that, historically, they wouldn't let any other browser be available as an icon on the desktop on a new system. They wouldn't let *anything* appear on the desktop except regular Windows icons. Breaking that agreement would cost a PC manufacturer their cheap Windows licensing deal.

      OK, so that's understandable from a support perspective. The Microsoft support desk wouldn't want to deal with any random crap loaded up by the manufacturer,

      • OK, so that's understandable from a support perspective. The Microsoft support desk wouldn't want to deal with any random crap loaded up by the manufacturer,

        Thye wouldn't anyway. OEM installs are supported by the OEM, not MS. You used to get whole Dell desktops on top of Win 3.1, for instance. Usually end up turning most of it off.

      • OK, so that's understandable from a support perspective. The Microsoft support desk wouldn't want to deal with any random crap loaded up by the manufacturer, particularly if some of that random crap made the system unstable.

        Except that Microsoft expect the retailer/OEM to provide support to customers in the first place.
  • Capitalism (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:15AM (#14069876)
    One small step of Europe towards capitalism one giant flame war for /.
  • Wrong target (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oliderid (710055)
    They should attack contracts between Microsoft and manufacturors. All these contracts binding the PC maker to Microsoft OS should be banned.

    Then let the market decides which is the best OS. If it is still windows so be it. It simply means that the competitors aren't smarter than the competition from the 80's. When you have a competitive platform crippled with some many security flaws and PC maker free from any exclusivity, it must do the trick otherwise they are simply really bad at business.

    Nobody knows ho
  • by owlstead (636356) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:29AM (#14069908)
    If Microsoft is such a monopoly, why does my (NL) government only provide for a Windows application to fill in my tax forms? 2 years down the lane and they are finally building an Apple version as well. Why have I (and the company I work for) received many documents that can only be viewed by Microsoft software. Thank god most information folders are formatted using Adobe. To get back to the Media Player issue; you would have to install it anyway, since almost all the broadcasts of the (public) TV network are either Real or MS formatted, and Real is not a real option.
    • Actually, there are those out there who use something other than Mac/Windows -- and they'd probably need an openly sourced application in order to get anything to work.

      Just providing an Apple/MS version is like having protestant/Catholic on a government form, but not Hindu, Satanist, Islam, animist, Buddhist, Ismaili -- due to the difficulty of enumerating what religion a person might claim, you have to provide an "other", otherwise the "other" folks will be peeved.

  • by borud (127730) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:30AM (#14069911) Homepage
    I would certainly choose it if I were to buy an XP licence since I really do not want the Windows Media Player. Why? Well, because it just isn't any good. It is a sluggish resource hog and where I run Windows it has been replaced by alternatives that are much faster and less prone to crash.
  • by FishandChips (695645) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:31AM (#14069914) Journal
    Do the arithmetic. A fine of 500 million euros sounds a lot, but it is a small price to pay when you are making $12 billion in net profits per year and can drag out a case for a good three years meanwhile doing exactly what you want to. Besides, when you make allowances for investment income and inflation, that 500 million shrinks to a smaller figure.

    The really important point is #3, interoperability with other platforms. Naturally MS are holding out on this one too. It's likely to become even more important if webservices take off because with their OS Microsoft can act as a choke point between every provider and every end-user.

    Microsoft are acting in a predictable way. They are a monolopy, and the way to continue with your monopoly rents is to fight every case with every method available right on until the bitter end. Do the arithmetic. It's a no-brainer. Only jail-time and billions in fines would make a difference.
    • You must be kidding, losing 4% of ones profit is not fun for a company.
      • Look at it this way: the cost of preserving monoply profits is 4% of those monopoly profits. Meanwhile you continue to run your monopoly the way you want and, hey, if the lawyers strike lucky you may pay less or nothing at all. It is hardly a heavy penalty considering the benefits. Even if you add up all the fines and settlements Microsoft has had to make, they still leave the company with its monopoly completely intact. Compare them to the financial benefits which have accrued to the company over the past
      • it's "the cost of doing business". Japanese construction companies have lived with it for decades - actually, they have to pay the yakuza more than that. They, and MS as well, will just pass the costs down the line. No biggie...
  • by Jarnis (266190) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:46AM (#14069946)
    Had they dropped the N version price even a few euros below the 'normal' OEM, it would've been a surefire hit. Nobody wants to pay for medial player.

    But since there was no price difference, this thing was DOA. Everyone knew it the moment it was announced.
    • Actually, if I were MS I would charge MORE for the N version. You see, they already have the regular version, and, they have to actually do something for N to be produced. I think it should be within their rights to charge for the "labour" of changing the product.
    • If nobody wants to pay for a media player, then Microsoft couldn't have been hurting all of those companies trying to sell media players. And if that were the case, the EU couldn't have levied a fat 500m euro fine.
  • Make it optional (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StoatBringer (552938) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:56AM (#14069963)
    Why not just make it an optional part of the Windows installation process? Or for pre-built machines, allow the user to optionally install it when they first set up windows.
    • Because that would essentially be the same thing as preinstalling it. A novice user who doesn't realise that there are alternative media players or who is too lazy to look for them and install them will just click "OK" when presented with a dialog along the lines of "In order to watch this video, you need to install Windows Media Player(tm). Would you like to automatically install it?", so the problem would still be the same in that case.

      Contrary to what one might think, after all, this ruling is not *direc
  • by tsa (15680) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:58AM (#14069966) Homepage
    We will see version 2 of Steve's monkeydance [ntk.net] soon?
  • by Kj0n (245572) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @07:28AM (#14070013)
    who thought of megacomputers when he read the subject?

    Come on: when you read "N Flops", it is about floating point arithmetic, right?
  • I'll refrain from making a sarcastic comment about how shocked I am that Windows XP N has flopped. Did anyone really expect it to fly off the shelves?

    Remember, Windows Media Player isn't just the application; it's all the codecs included with the application and the underlying WMPlayer framework within the OS.

    With that in mind, why would any computer manufacturer which sells Windows systems, and caters to the home market, want to sell a crippled version of Windows, which can't even play a CD?

    IMO this is ver

  • Bundled applications are SO not the problem with Microsoft.

    This whole fiasco was merely a way of making people think something was 'being done' about the Microsoft problem. Don't look behind the curtain.
  • The Fine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oceanclub (654183) <paul_moloney@hot m a i l . com> on Saturday November 19, 2005 @03:58PM (#14072070) Homepage
    Serious question: where does the 500 million go? P.

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