What are the Windows 10 N and KN Editions?
Have you seen some Windows 10 Editions marked as Windows 10 N or Windows 10 KN and wondering why they’re different from other WIndows Editions? You’re not alone. Many other users have been wondering the same.
In this article, you’ll learn what are the Windows 10 N and KN Editions, why they’re named like that, and if you need them.
Windows 10 N and KN editions
Here are the different features of Windows 10 N and KN editions:
Windows 10 N Editions
In 2004 there was a ruling for anti-competitive practices by the European Commission after they found out that Microsoft had massively violated European antitrust law, and was abusing its market monopoly to hurt competing audio and video applications. The EU thereafter fined Microsoft then required Microsoft to offer a Windows version without Windows Media Player.
This ruling is why Microsoft distributes a special Windows 10 “N” edition for Microsoft Windows in Europe. This special edition Windows includes all features of Windows Operating System, except they don’t include Windows Media Player and other multimedia playback features preinstalled.
For example, Windows 7 will lack Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center. Similarly, on Windows 10, Microsoft doesn’t include Windows Media Player, Movies & TV, Groove Music, Skype, or Voice Recorder.
Computer manufacturers and consumers can choose the Windows N version without Windows Media Player and then install their preferred multimedia applications. However, Windows N is not the only Windows version that Microsoft offers in the European Union. The Windows N version is just an option that must be available in the EU as required by the law. Users can still access the other standard versions of Windows.
Windows 10 KN Edition
In 2005, again Microsoft found itself on the wrong side of the law. The Korea Fair Trade Commission found Microsoft to be abusing its monopoly position. Microsoft was using its position to hurt the competing messaging and multimedia apps. Like the EU, the Korea Fair Trade Commission fined and required Microsoft to offer a Windows version without MSN Messenger and Windows Media Player.
Microsoft then introduced a special Windows version called Windows “KN” editions available in Korea. Similar to the Windows N version, the Microsoft Windows KN version has all the other features of Windows except the MSN Messanger and the Windows Media Player and its related multimedia features.
Microsoft has since entirely discontinued the Messenger application from all its Windows versions. This means that the Windows KN version now only lacks Windows Media Player and its related multimedia features.
Does Microsoft produce only one Windows N or KN edition?
There isn’t just one Windows “N” or “KN” edition. Instead, Microsoft produces Windows “N” or Windows KN versions of most of its standard Windows editions. For instance, if you needed to buy Windows 10, Microsoft produces different editions such as Windows 10 Home and Student, N, Windows 10 Enterprise N, or Windows 10 Professional N.
These Windows versions are similar to the standard Home and Student, Enterprise, and Professional Windows editions with all the basic features. However, they exclude multimedia features as required by the law.
Whats do users lose in Windows N and KN editions
Producing Windows N and KN editions is not just simply removing the Windows Media Player. When the underlying multimedia specifications and playback features are removed, a few other applications will fail to work properly.
For example, many other Windows applications, from PC games to Microsoft Office, which rely on the built-in Windows video playback features will not work properly. These applications will be affected and they may even crash.
On Windows 10 for example, Windows Hello, Cortana, and PDF viewing in Microsoft Edge won’t work. In addition, the multimedia features in the Windows Store apps may not also work.
Note: There is a detailed (but not complete) list of the disabled features in Windows N and KN editions on Microsoft’s website.
What’s the solution to Windows N and KN editions
Even though the named features are disabled on Windows N and KN editions, it doesn’t mean that they dont totally work on these Windows versions. They’re just not installed preinstalled by default.
Microsoft has a free Media Feature Pack that restores these applications. If you want to enable the disabled multimedia features on Windows N or KN edition, you can just download the free Media Feature Pack from Microsoft website.
Microsoft offers different download links for the free Media Features Pack depending on the Windows edition you need it for, for instance, whether you need it for Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10. The Media Features pack will re-enable all the disabled features.
Whether you will buy the Windows N or KN version is a decision entirely up to you. That means you’ll accept a windows edition that lacks some features and can potentially give you problems in operations. If you have an option, we recommend you avoid these Windows N and KN editions.
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