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Microsoft Corp. made it official Monday: It has no plans to appeal the antitrust sanctions levied against it by the European Commission. As a result, a stripped-down version of Windows, minus Windows Media Player and related files, is moving forward rapidly.

At least some PC makers had an inkling about Microsoft’s intentions not to appeal as of last Wednesday. That’s when Microsoft delivered to them the version of Windows ordered by the European Commission that Microsoft is currently calling “Windows XP Reduced Media Edition.”

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that Microsoft made available to PC makers both Home and Professional flavors of Windows XP that do not include Windows Media Player on Jan. 19. PC makers will be allowed to sell these versions of Windows in European Union countries only. The retail prices of the stripped-down versions will be the same as that of their full Windows XP counterparts.

“These versions will be available to the retail chain in the coming weeks and are already available for OEMs to license. It’s the retailers and the OEMs who will decide whether or not to distribute these versions of Windows and when they would make them available,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

“Our proposed name [for this release] has been ‘Windows XP Reduced Media Edition.’ This name and other issues are subject to Commission review and approval,” the spokesperson added.

It’s not just Windows Media Player itself that Microsoft has exorcised from Reduced Media Edition. The Redmond, Wash., software vendor cut out a total of 186 multimedia-related files, a spokesperson confirmed.

“Some common customer scenarios, such as playing an audio CD, playing an MP3 file, transferring an MP3 file to a portable music player, or streaming audio and video over the Internet, will not work unless additional software is installed either from Microsoft or a third party,” the Microsoft spokesperson said, specified in the European Commission decision.

Who would want a version of Windows missing these capabilities? Good question.

Read the full story on Microsoft Watch: Microsoft Moves Ahead with XP Reduced Media Edition