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Reduced Media Edition

Microsoft Corp. has added an “N” to the name of the Windows XP versions without Windows Media Player that it was ordered to offer in Europe. The European Commission chose the names “Windows XP Home Edition N” and “Windows XP Professional Edition N” after rejecting Microsoft’s first choice, “Windows XP Reduced Media Edition.” Geoffrey Pullum blogs about this in the Language Log, and I simply have to quote two passages here in case you don’t have the time to go and read his full entry.

About Microsoft’s strategy in general:

For those recently returned from sailing around the world nonstop with no radio, let me remind you that Microsoft has been actively pursuing its policy of illicitly destroying other companies’ ability to do business, this time in the media player software market. The idea is to kill companies like Real Audio. The strategy is familiar: if anything new or good comes out, plagiarize it or buy a mediocre competing product (remember, it doesn’t have to be good, you’re a monopolist); embed it as an integrated component of the Windows operating system in a way that made it easy to access and very hard to remove; introduce a few covert and plausibly deniable difficulties for other vendors’ media players and keep your code secret; wait for the other vendors to die; then increase the price of Windows to cover the costs.

About Microsoft’s wrangling of the courts:

Again and again I have found myself thinking “These Microsoft people are bandits;” and then I think again and realize I’m being unfair — to bandits. (Bandits who are caught and found to have violated anti-banditry law don’t typically manage to plea-bargain robbery and murder down to a parking violation, appeal the parking ticket, and go right back into banditry while the appeal is being heard.)

My 18-year old daughter who practically lives with her computer attached to her body would never be caught using Windows Media Player. Her judgment reflects that of her peers: “Windows Media Player is evil.” There is hope after all.


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