EU/Microsoft Mediaplayer Decision Due Today

The EU’s National Antitrust Exports Advisory meets to day to give their decision on one of their longest running cases – Microsoft’s bundling of multimedia applications in their Windows operating system.

This is the first of an expected two meetings – Microsoft will probably be given a deadline today, and will be expected to provide a “lightweight” version of Windows without its bundled applications, making it easier for other software manufacturers to include their own multimedia players and browsers when conusmers purchase a new PC. We would be very surprised if MS Europe didn’t already have a “core OS and applications only” version of Windows ready to go. Since this case have been going on since Windows 95, they’ve had plenty of time as there have been at least five major versions released since then.

The current solution for MS, the “Set Program Access and Defaults” tool, included in the last service packs, was introduced as a result of legal action, but does not tackle the controversial issue of software bundling.

The second meeting will be on the 22nd of March, where we predict that Microsoft will get hit up for a couple of hundred million euros.

Of course, Microsoft will appeal against both measures, prolonging the case even further – but perhaps next year you’ll be able to buy a PC with RealPlayer instead of Windows Media as the default multimedia application.

The EU’s Antitrust Site

Watching Microsoft Like A Hawk

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?