Microsoft announces agreement with EU on new Windows product name

Microsoft Corp. said Monday it has agreed with European Union antitrust regulators on a new name for Windows software sold in Europe.

Officials at the U.S. software giant said they had accepted the European Union's offer to call the European version of Windows sold without Media Player "Windows XP Home Edition N" - with "N" standing for "not with media player."

Microsoft's "XP Professional Edition" will also include the "N" for versions sold without the media player.

Microsoft's top lawyer in Europe, Horacio Gutierrez, told The Associated Press his company had notified the EU head office of its decision to accept their name offer.

He added that the company had "some misgivings" about the new name, but decided in the end to cooperate.

"We fear it may cause confusion for consumers buying the product, but we will adopt the commission's name in order to move forward and accelerate the pace of the implementation process."

There was no immediate comment from the European Commission.

The agreement is part of talks between the EU and Microsoft to implement an EU fine against Microsoft last year, totaling a record €497 million (US$665 million) after the EU ruled the company abusively wielded its Windows software monopoly to lock competitors out of the market.

The EU ordered Microsoft to offer consumers an MP-less version, compatible with other competitor software, such as Real Player, to allow consumers to decide which media player they wanted to use.

Gutierrez said all nine proposed name changes, including Microsoft's first choice: "Windows XP Reduced Media Edition," were rejected. EU regulators said that name would discourage sales and mislead customers.

"Two months ago Microsoft provided the Commission nine additional names and took the unusual step of offering to adopt any name chosen by the Commission from this list," Gutierrez said.

The agreement should clear the way for Microsoft to start shipping the new MP-less version of Windows to computer shops.

Software rivals are now complaining, however, that the new MP-less version is not fully compatible with their programs, further complicating the implementation of the EU's antitrust ruling.

CONSTANT BRAND Associated Press Writer

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