What Are Windows "N" Editions?
Sep 14, 2023 3:00 PM

What Are Windows "N" Editions?

by HubSite 365 about Microsoft

Software Development Redmond, Washington

Pro UserWindowsLearning Selection

Have you ever noticed them before?

Windows "N" Editions are specific versions of Windows lacking media-related features. They were created as a response to a European Commission ruling requiring Microsoft to provide versions of Windows without built-in media playback capabilities. These editions may not have programs such as Windows Media Player, Music, Video, Voice Recorder, and Skype.

Beyond their lack of specific features, Windows "N" Editions function identically to standard editions. However, any necessary media features can be added back with the Media Feature Pack, freely available via Microsoft's website.

Users can check for these editions in their system through Windows settings. The information can be found under System > About. The naming convention distinguishes these "N" editions from the regular ones.

  • 0:00 - Intro
  • 0:18 - What is a Windows "N" Edition?
  • 0:51 - Why do they exist?
  • 2:47 - Specific differences
  • 4:37 - Media Feature Pack
  • 5:24 - Inside the Installer

Extended Discussion on Windows "N" Editions

The existence of Windows "N" Editions exemplifies the global reach of technology policy. The European Commission's media player ruling resulted in modifications to Microsoft's approach to building Windows that echo to this day.

Though "N" editions lack specific features, Microsoft provides ample solutions for users who might need to reintroduce these capabilities, ensuring that all users have access to necessary tools.

Windows "N" Editions continue to be made available alongside standard Windows releases, reflecting an enduring dedication to optionality and customization in operating systems, and technology broadly.

Learn about What Are Windows "N" Editions?

Windows "N" editions are versions of Windows operating systems which do not include certain media-related features or programs. These editions are released in specific regions, such as the European Union, and are available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The purpose of the Windows "N" editions is to provide a version of Windows without certain media-related technologies, such as Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, and certain media codecs. This allows users to choose whether or not to install such technologies, which can be licensed separately from Microsoft.


The Windows "N" editions also have a different installer, which allows users to install the operating system without the included media-related technologies. Finally, the Windows "N" editions also include a Media Feature Pack, which can be downloaded from Microsoft's website and reinstalled at any time. This allows users to add back the media-related technologies which are not included in the Windows "N" edition.


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