PC vendors snub antitrust altered Windows

PC vendors snub antitrust altered Windows

Summary: PC vendors such as HP and Dell are ignoring a version of Windows without a bundled media player, raising questions about the effectiveness of the Europe's antitrust ruling


The four largest PC vendors have no plans to sell the media player-free version of Windows which Microsoft was ordered to offer by Europe's competition commissioner.

Microsoft will make an updated version of Window XP N available on Wednesday, but none of the computer manufacturers that ZDNet UK spoke to are considering pre-installing it on desktops or laptops.

Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Fujitsu Siemens all claimed to have no firm plans to install Windows XP N, citing a lack of customer demand. A Dell spokesman said on Tuesday that the company has no plans to install Windows XP N on its computers as customers expect to have a media player included.

"Dell will continue to offer European customers Microsoft's Windows operating systems including the Windows Media Player utility on Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks. Customers purchase computers expecting them to come equipped with the capability of playing back digital media files and it's our obligation to meet this need," said the spokesman. "[Windows XP will] not [be offered] at this time. We'll monitor the market to see if XP N is in high demand."

Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, which last month completed its purchase of IBM's PC division, echoed similar sentiments.

"At this time, HP has no plans to support Windows XP Professional Edition N on commercial notebooks in 2005," said an HP spokesman.

"At present we have no plans to pre-install Windows XP N on desktops and laptops. We will continue to monitor customer demand going forward," said a Lenovo spokesman.

The only company that conceded it may pre-install Windows XP N was Fujitsu Siemens, which said it would do so on request. "We will not pre-install as standard. It will only be on special requests and we have had no such request from any of our customers to date," said a Fujitsu Siemens spokesperson.

PC vendor Acer has been unable to provide a comment on this issue over the last week.

The lack of interest from computer manufacturers for Windows XP N raises questions over the effectiveness of the EU's antitrust ruling, particularly the fact that Microsoft has been allowed to offer Windows XP N for the same price as the standard version of Windows XP.

An European Commission spokesman was reluctant to comment on the issue. "Given that Windows XP N has not yet even been shipped yet, it is too early to start drawing conclusions," he said.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft said it bears no responsibility for making PC manufacturers use Windows XP N. "Microsoft has made these products available through its standard distribution channels. Whether or not customers or distributors offer this product in Europe is a decision for individual computer manufacturers, enterprise customers and retailers," said a Microsoft spokesperson.

One of Microsoft's rivals in the media player market, RealNetworks, criticised Microsoft earlier this year for failing to provide a fully functional version of Windows that is unbundled from Windows Media Player. Microsoft has since updated Windows XP N in response to comments from the EC and RealNetworks, but it is uncertain whether all issues have been resolved.

RealNetworks refused to comment on the updated version of Windows XP N.

Topic: Operating Systems

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Only to be expected. If you were offered a car with a free radio player, or a car without a free radio player but with a voucher you could use to get a free radio player down the road (which is pretty much the same but a different brand), which would you choose?

    They should have forced them to only sell the N edition in Europe.

    At least the precedent is set for them to force similar restrictions when Microsoft tries to bundle MSN Search into Longhorn.
  • Put an additional tax, say $50, on each non Euro compliant computer sold and see how really "customer demand" things are.
  • This whole law suit was a joke. If other media players are good enough to grab the attention of the masses, then whether or not Windows comes with Windows Media Player or not is irrelevant, I have installed and tried many alternatives, but see no reason to switch, as Media Player does everything I need it to. Yet I know many people who wouldn't use Media Player if their life counted on it, because they are such a fan of a rival player.

    I hope no manufacturer pre-installs this version of Windows, ever. Just to push home how stupid it was to force them to remove it in the first place.

    Microsoft is writing an Operating System that has to try and please people from all walks of life, whether it be the technical, gaming, work or casual family user. Not everyone that uses the OS knows or even cares what players they use, as long as their PC plays their CD's or other media they put on their machine.

    If Windows never came with a Media Player from the start, I'm sure there would be a large percentage of the current market that would be none the wiser that their PC was able to play CD's.
  • Why are we wasting so much time and money on this, and who cares? Come on... really... do speaker manufacturers sue BMW or Volswagen for installing their own speakers as standard in their cars? No... but you don't see them being taken to court over it do you?

    "Ooo Microsoft have a product that does everything and that's not fair"... get over it and stop wasting my time and bandwidth!

    If the other products were easy enough to install and use, and supported all the media types you wanted, there wouldn't be a problem would there?!!
  • They havent got a clue. What a complete waste of time.

    Why dont they find out something useful like why we brits pay pound-dollar prices for the same thing Full version of XP $139 and
  • Sigh. The only thing Microsoft did was muscle themselves, by means of their PC market share and "free" software, into a new market they totally ignored until someone else made it interesting enough. Media Player, Internet Explorer, MSN, etc, etc. If such behaviour is to be rewarded then why bother with providing the masses with new and interesting things?
  • Arthur B's right. Microsoft don't innovate. They let other people innovate, then muscle in, steal the invention, steal the entire marketplace by way of their illegal monopoly and force the company that actually did the innovating out of business. Then, once they have a monopoly in that market too, they ignore it and cease to develop it.

    Why they have a single fan in the world is beyond me. Everything they're credited with inventing they effectively stole.
  • Doug said:

    "do speaker manufacturers sue BMW or Volswagen for installing their own speakers as standard in their cars?"

    A fair point but one that misses a subtle but vital point.

    BMW and Volkswagen are but two of many players in the "4 wheeled metal box that moves" market.

    Lets adjust the true scenario a little. General Motors now make 95% of the cars on the planet and have been convicted a number of times for monopolistic practices in various parts of the world. They fit their own speakers, but only started doing so when a vibrant but nucleic car speaker market started to appear. They do so in a way that makes it deliberately difficult for others to make replacements. They also invalidate the car's warranty if their service centre finds non-GM speakers in the car.

    Now do you think the speaker manufacturers have a right to be a little unhappy.
  • To add to this cars versus software comparison.

    A few decades ago cars where very unsafe. It even got to the point that car makers knowlingly withheld safety measures because it was cheaper, for them, to pay for an increased death toll amongst their own customers.

    It took serious government intervention (and even then only by means of punishment cutting right into the car business profits) and loads of unFUDing and unTROLLing to get the car companies to put public safety and well being back on the list of internal company demands.

    As we know now car safety has improved a lot since then. Almost every other month something new and interesting is introduced to the market. Almost everyone can effort a car now. And so on.

    Now back to Microsoft. In the last 10 years they've managed to bring security to an all time low (oh right, their sponsored for FUD says the opposite, duh), cripple markets, stiffle innovation, increased prices and only added extra bloat in return, turned whole generations into Microserfs and made it that whole masses somehow find it normal behaviour for software to crash and burn in ever increasing spectacular ways. And so on.

    Every other succesfull product in the world gives you better value for money and improved ease of use, reliability, quality, customer rights and so on as the years go by. Look at TV's, cars, kitchen equipment, whatever. But not software. Hardware, yes but software no. Why?

    I guess people have to die in numbers before governments will intervene.

    Correction. I also have plenty of insight in hospitals that allowed Microsoft into their critical infrastructures. People have already died in numbers. But I guess it was cheaper to simply pay the relatives off or blame it on the computer (failing computers is accepted behaviour nowedays, remember? Unlike your TV, car, stereo, kitchen equipment, your $1 watch, etc). Not even mentioning the number of companies that went broke because their "ICT strategy" somehow didn't took into account the ever increasing overhead cost and critical system failures that made them go crash and burn.

    If the entire car market today would act and operate as currently the software industry works for just one year entire nations would revolt and demand many political heads to satisfy their blood lust.

    Can you picture a world where people don't own the car they bought? Have to install duck tape locks and safety belts themselves? Have zero effective warranty? Where vendor liability practicly doesn't exist? Where a "new car" is actually your old car but with a new paint job and a new steering wheel? Where if you change the tires you need a new engine as well and only because the vendor likes it that way? Where your choice of fuel also determines on which roads you may drive and vice versa? Or where you can park your car and for how much? And where traffic cops are payed for by the car vendors and thus only fine you for violating rules the car vendors invented themselves. Not to mention finding it normal that your car breaks down or taken for a joy ride at least a couple of times per year and then having to wait a week before the kid next door somehow makes things working again somewhat. For a price.

    Yes, I can see that EU Lisabon Act really getting somewhere. Not!
  • The EU is the biggedst joke on Earth. I guess the fact the Europe has no software industry does not play into them blocking anything that comes from American software companies in the name of protecting the EU consumer. What a joke get off your high horse and start working on the sagging EU economy.