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WinInfo Daily UPDATE, March 30, 2006

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In the News - Microsoft Agrees to EU Changes for XP N

- Back to Bland: HP Finds Post-Carly CEO
- Microsoft Launches MSN Video Downloads

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Agrees to EU Changes for XP N

In a stunning show of compliance, Microsoft has agreed to all the major changes that the European Union (EU) antitrust regulators have requested regarding the version of Windows XP that the company must ship without Windows Media Player (WMP). The company has been wrangling with the requirements of its EU-mandated antitrust ruling for a year, and recently the EU had commented that Microsoft's recalcitrance could result in daily fines.
"Earlier today we contacted the \[European\] Commission \[the EU's regulatory arm\] and informed them that we have accepted all the main changes they have requested we make to the version of Windows without Media Player," Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's top lawyer in Europe, said. According to Gutierrez, Microsoft will provide two editions of XP without WMP, and both will bear an "N" suffix representing "Not with Windows Media Player." The editions will thus be named Windows XP Home Edition N and Windows XP Professional Edition N.
Microsoft also revealed that it has agreed to several other EU-requested "design and description" changes for the N versions of XP. The company will remove packaging references that certain products don't work with the N versions of Windows, will create a software application that will help consumers reinstall all the WMP-related files that Microsoft removed, and will change various unspecified registry entries within the product. That last change is likely related to complaints made by RealNetworks, which makes a rival media player and claims that the new N versions of XP won't work with its products because of registry changes. The EU hasn't yet examined Microsoft's agreement and thus won't comment on the changes to which the company has agreed. But a spokesperson for the software giant said that the agreement covers "99 percent" of the outstanding issues the EU has with Microsoft's antitrust compliance. Only a few technical matters remain to be ironed out, he said.

Back to Bland: HP Finds Post-Carly CEO

Less than 2 months after casting controversial Carly Fiorina out of the company, HP has selected NCR veteran Mark Hurd to be its next CEO. Hurd, unlike Fiorina, is a bland and traditional chief executive with a record of cost cutting and fiscal stability. Hurd had been CEO of NCR since 2003, but he joined that company 25 years earlier.
"HP is one of the world's great companies, with a proud history of innovation, outstanding talent, and enviable positions in many of its product lines and services," Hurd wrote in a statement HP issued this morning. "It's a great honor to join its leadership team and have the opportunity to build on its success."
HP's selection of Hurd as CEO likely means that the company won't make any drastic changes to its sprawling business, which has been reeling since its 2002 acquisition of Compaq. Like the automaker General Motors (GM), HP lacks a consistent identity and sells many overlapping products. Managing HP's complexity will likely be Hurd's most daunting challenge.
Hurd will start at HP on April 1 and will join the company's board of directors. Technically, Hurd succeeds Robert Wayman, HP's CFO, who had been working in the capacity of interim CEO since Fiorina was dismissed. Wayman will continue as HP CFO.

Microsoft Launches MSN Video Downloads

Microsoft has announced the immediate availability of MSN Video Downloads, a new subscription service that will provide daily content from more than 20 TV shows and content creators such as MSNBC, FOX Sports, The Food Network, and IFILM to users of Windows Powered Smartphones, Pocket PC devices, and Portable Media Centers. Microsoft first announced the MSN Video Downloads service at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2005 in January.
"Today's announcement solidifies the continued momentum we've seen for portable video," John Pollard, Microsoft's director of Windows Mobile Applications and Services Marketing, said. "With content from some of the most recognized brands in entertainment, MSN Video Downloads helps bring this vision to life, allowing people to take their favorite television shows with them whether they are on the train, waiting for a doctor's appointment, or keeping the kids occupied in the back seat of the car."
A basic subscription to MSN Video Downloads is free, but users who want access to all available videos can subscribe to a premium version of the service for $19.95 a year. Premium subscribers are able to pick and choose which content they download each day, and the content is synchronized with compatible portable devices that use Windows Media Player 10 (WMP). Programs from BreakTV, COOKIE JAR Entertainment ("Paddington Bear"), DIY Network, Fine Living TV, FOX Sports, The Food Network, Fun Little Movies, Headliners Entertainment Group (comedy), Home & Garden Television, IFILM, MSNBC, TotalVid (action sports), and Want Media are now available on the service. For more information, visit the MSN Video Downloads Web site.


In yesterday's WinInfo Daily UPDATE story about Python, I said that Jim Hugunin was the author of the original Python language. Guido van Rossum created the original language, and Hugunin is the creator of IronPython. I apologize for the error. --Mark Edwards

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