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12.27.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Microsoft readies “Reduced Media Edition” of Windows

Within hours of the adverse ruling from a European court, Microsoft said it will deliver a version of Windows without an integrated media player beginning in January.

The “Reduced Media” editons of the Windows XP Home and Professional versions the operating system will be available only in Europe.

In addition to lacking a copy of Windows Media Player, the new versions of Windows won’t be able to do things like play a CD or MP3 file or transfer music to a portable device, at least not without additional software from another company, CNET reported. Among the limited media features that will remain are the ability to play .wav files using Sound Recorder as well as a moviemaking program that is separate from Windows Media Player.

CNET said customers who opt for the media-player-free version won’t be getting a bargain. The EU ordered that Microsoft couldn’t charge more for the version sans player, but it didn’t say that Microsoft had to charge less.

How much impact the court’s action will have on Microsoft’s Windows media technology is unknown. Through bundling it with Windows for several years, Windows Media has already become the world’s most dominant program for playing digital music and video on computers. Rival RealNetworks product ranks a very distant second.

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