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Eu Voices Concerns Over Microsoft's Vista


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European antitrust regulators have voiced competition concerns regarding Microsoft's upcoming Vista operating system, including the possible bundling of Internet search and PDF-like formatting capabilities in the operating system.


Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes sent a letter to the software maker last week outlining two main concerns regarding Vista and its conformity with the Commission's March 2004 decision, according to a statement from the Commission on Wednesday.


One concern centered on the possibility that Vista would include features in its products that are already available separately from Microsoft and other companies, such as Internet search, digital rights management and software to create fixed document formats like PDF.


The other concern focused on whether Microsoft would fail to disclose all necessary technical information to third parties to make Vista interoperable with competing products.


The European Commission will begin a two-day hearing on Thursday on allegations that Microsoft failed to comply with its March 2004 ruling. The issue of having Microsoft's OS interoperable with competitors' products is also at the heart of that ruling, and the Commission will decide whether the software giant should be subject to a fine of up to 2 million euros a day.


While the Commission sent the Vista letter as a means to clarify its concerns, the European antitrust regulators have not formally launched an investigation.


Microsoft, meanwhile, contends it is working hard to be inclusive with Vista.


"Keeping the industry and regulators informed of our product development plans has been, and will remain, a priority," Microsoft said in a statement on Wednesday, noting it has not yet received the Commission's letter. "We have worked hard to include partners and competitors in our planning, so they can build products and services that work with Windows Vista."


Other industry players, however, have raised objections to the lack of interoperability of Microsoft's older OS with their products.


The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) will submit evidence at the hearing this week, as an interested party. The ECIS includes Sun Microsystems, RealNetworks, IBM, Oracle, Corel, Nokia, Red Hat, Opera and Linspire.


The "industry wants nothing more than to achieve interoperability as soon as possible to restore consumer choice and competition on the merits in the work group server market," Simon Awde, ECIS chairman, said in a statement. "Two years after the Commission decision, we are still not there."

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The same group made Microsoft release last year the windows XP reduced media edition for the UK, as they said that it infringed on media player making companies and it had to be a clean system so users could add there own media player software and not be tied to the current MP9, I'm sure that there will be many flavors of Vista released in the UK market once launch date arrives... and as you know Paul , all the components are modules in this Product... i just see this as a stalling tactic, and MS will release a cut down version to the UK market to bypass the EU panel


Artical below...

Europe gets 'reduced' Windows

Microsoft makes lack of feature explicit in product name





Microsoft Corp. isn't known for particularly snazzy product names to begin with, but the latest from the Redmond company might just set a new standard for lack of allure:


Windows XP Reduced Media Edition.


Microsoft yesterday confirmed that it plans to use that product name for the stripped-down version of Windows that it will be required to offer in Europe, after a court order this week put antitrust remedies into effect against the company.


If the name doesn't make you want to rush to the store to buy the software, you're probably not alone. It's unusual, to say the least, for a product name to call attention so explicitly to something that the company itself considers a shortcoming.


Then again, this is no ordinary situation. The European Commission, seeking to boost competition in the market for digital music and video software, has ordered Microsoft to offer computer makers and consumers in Europe the option of getting Windows without the company's Windows Media Player software pre-installed, as is normally the case.


Microsoft is appealing the order and agreed to release the alternative version only after a European court this week declined the company's request to suspend the remedy while its case proceeds. But the company can still offer computer makers and retailers versions of Windows with Windows Media Player, and Microsoft said this week that it plans to offer both the stripped-down and standard versions for the same price.


In other words, the company isn't exactly pinning its hopes on huge sales of the stripped-down version.


However, Microsoft said the goal of the "Reduced Media" name wasn't to discourage sales of the stripped-down version but rather to distinguish clearly between the two types of Windows versions that it will soon offer in Europe, under this week's court order.

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