HP and Dell indifferent to stripped version of Windows XP

The worlds two largest PC makers have reacted with profound indifference, to the imminent availability of a version of Windows Media Player.

Dell said it has no plans to offer it at all, while HP said that it will be an option but that it does not expect it to be in great demand.

Microsoft has been ordered to provide Windows XP Home and Professional Edition N – as the WMP-free versions are known – as part of the penalties imposed by the European Commission for antitrust violations.

‘While we’ll continue to monitor customer demand for this version, we will continue to offer our customers the full version of Windows that comes with Media Player,’ Dell spokesman Venancio Figueroa said.

HP said that although it will make XP N available, it does not think it will hold much appeal.

‘If there is no difference in price, there will be very little incentive to buy it,’ said Ingo Juraske, VP for Europe.

Microsoft plans to sell the expurgated version at the same price as the WMP variety. However the EC said that it is still considering whether this will be acceptable. Microsoft could face daily fines if the Commission considers that it has acted in bad faith.

The company said it that it doe not make sense to sell the N version more cheaply, as Windows Media Player is a free download from its website.

The news will be a blow to makers of other media players – notably Real Networks – who had called for equal access to the Windows desktop. Real counsel Dave Stewart that the company felt confident that the EC will ‘take all appropriate steps to ensure the effectiveness of its decision’.

However, some observers feel that this is too little too late, regardless of what further constraints the Commission imposes. Windows Media is the leading online audio and video format with all the signs – such as Yahoo!’s decision to drop support for its rivals – indicating that it will only get stronger.

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