Microsoft to Sell 'Stripped' Windows in South Korea After Antitrust Ruling

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) will release new versions of its Windows operating system in South Korea on Thursday to comply with an anti-trust ruling, a company source said on Wednesday.

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission fined Microsoft 32.5 billion won ($34 million) in December, saying the world's biggest software company breached anti-trust laws by selling a version of Windows that incorporated its media player and instant messaging services.

The commission ordered Microsoft to unbundle its media player and messaging service from Windows software or allow the embedding of rival products in its operating system.

A Seoul court rejected last month Microsoft's request to suspend the ruling.

"To comply with the ruling, Microsoft will release new versions of Windows on August 24," the source, who asked not to be named, said by telephone.

It will release two versions each of Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional Edition, the source said.

One version has removed Windows Media Player and Windows Messenger, while the other includes a link to a Web page where users can download all rival instant messaging programs.

"The impact will be minimal. The only notable difference is that Microsoft won't be able to sell the old Windows XP from tomorrow [in South Korea]," said another source close to the company.

Microsoft has said its bundled version has benefited consumers and the local technology industry and has not blocked competition because South Koreans can already download and use competitors' software.

South Korea is among the top 10 markets for Microsoft globally, the company has said, without giving figures.