How does Microsoft Windows XP NIWMP grab you? It didn't do much for European regulators, either.

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How does Microsoft Windows XP NIWMP grab you?

It didn’t do much for European regulators, either.

That was one of nine names they rejected for the special version of Windows that will be sold in Europe without Windows Media Player bundled in the system. Instead, after surveying consumers, the European Union decided the product must be called Windows XP Home N or Windows XP Professional N, depending on the version.

“We were disappointed they rejected all nine names that we proposed,” spokeswoman Stacy Drake said.

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The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, decided last year that Microsoft violated European antitrust regulations. It ordered the company to sell a version of Windows without Microsoft’s media player built into the system. Its concern was that by bundling its player with the system, Microsoft could stifle competition in the digital-media marketplace.

Microsoft is appealing, but meanwhile it has to comply with the order. It’s also haggling with the commission over a requirement that it share more technical information with competitors and over the authority of a trustee that will monitor the company’s compliance.

The list

After the European Union rejected Windows XP Reduced Media Edition as the name for a stripped-down version of Windows planned for Europe, Microsoft suggested nine alternatives:

• Windows XP/N

• Windows XP/B

• Windows Not Including Windows Media Player

• Windows Not Incorporating Windows Media Player

• Windows NIWMP

• Windows OS/U.

• Windows OS/B

• Windows OS/N

• Windows OS/C

Also unresolved are complaints that the “N” version of Windows does not work as well as it should.

EU spokeswoman Antonia Mochan told The Associated Press that EU regulators “were still awaiting the results of market testing” and that the issue “goes wider than the name.”

Drake attributed the glitches to the removal of 186 files, which the company said it needed to do to comply with the commission’s ruling.

The two sides have gone back and forth over the product name for two months. Microsoft wanted to call the product Windows XP Reduced Media Edition, but the commission thought that would scare away buyers. It asked the company to provide a list of alternative names.

Among Microsoft’s nine suggestions: Windows XP Not Including Windows Media Player.

Another standout: Windows XP Not Incorporating Windows Media Player.

Or, for short, Windows XP NIWMP.

Others on the list included Windows XP/N, Windows XP/B, Windows OS/U, Windows OS/N, Windows OS/B and Windows OS/C.

Drake said the letter names don’t have any hidden meanings; they’re just alternative product names.

Whatever the name, it’s unclear how many computer makers will sell the playerless system.

Hewlett Packard, the largest seller of PCs in Europe, won’t sell the “N” version since it costs the same as Windows XP with the built-in media player, said Tom Anderson, HP vice president of consumer PC marketing.

HP consumer PCs already come with three competing media players: Apple’s iTunes and Quicktime and RealNetwork’s RealPlayer.

If the EU was trying to protect consumers, it failed by choosing the “N” name, said Microsoft backer Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, a lobbying group intervening in the antitrust case. He said buyers won’t know what they’re getting.

“It’s almost like we’re tricking consumers into buying the wrong thing,” he said.

Zuck didn’t say whether XP NIWMP would have cleared things up.

Brier Dudley: 206-515-5687 or