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Microsoft said today that it won't pursue any more appeals against an interim EU competition ruling to ship a version of Windows without Windows Media Player. In December Microsoft lost an appeal to the European Court of the First Instance and promised to ship WMP-less Windows in the EU "in January". Now we learn that OEMs will be able to receive WMP-less Windows "within the next few weeks".

At behind-closed-doors hearings in 2003 Microsoft argued, as it had before, that producing a version of Windows without Media Player was impossible. However this was undermined when Real Networks sensationally demonstrated Real Player running quite happily on an embedded version of Windows.

The full investigation into allegations of anticompetitive practices by Microsoft is expected to take five years. Last spring an interim ruling imposed a fine and some conditions on the company. Novell and long-standing Microsoft foe, trade group CCIA withdrew from the proceedings last November. CCIA realized the folly of its campaign after Microsoft paid it almost $10 million.

"Life is a constant reordering of priorities," said CCIA chief Ed Black. So true. ®

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