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The Courts Government Microsoft Novell News

Novell's 2004 Case Against Microsoft Moves Forward 197

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the on-hold-since-2004 dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Novell's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft for destroying the market for WordPerfect and QuattroPro can now move forward. The Supreme Court denied certiorari to Microsoft's appeal of an appeals court ruling, which is the fancy legal way of saying they ignored Microsoft's appeal and let the previous ruling stand. Novell's complaint is an interesting read, because some of this sounds quite familiar, given how Microsoft is now forcing the standardization of OOXML. Statements like, 'As Microsoft knew, a truly standard file format that was open to all ISVs would have enhanced competition in the market for word processing applications, because such a standard allows the exchange of text files between different word processing applications used by different customers,' and 'Microsoft made other inferior features de facto industry standards,' sound a lot more recent."
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Novell's 2004 Case Against Microsoft Moves Forward

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  • Sorry to say... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HerculesMO (693085) on Monday March 17, 2008 @06:47PM (#22778758)
    But why does MS have to adopt to the standard?

    The problem is, matter of factly, that nothing competes with Office as it stands. Nothing. Not OpenOffice, not Apple's Keynote/Pages, or anything else.

    Microsoft has to have its hand forced. Look at Internet Explorer. Firefox came out, was a BETTER browser, and now Microsoft is finally promising standards compliance in IE8. It may, or may not be the case that it will happen, but enough to realize that they have to beat Firefox on its own turf, since it is now the superior browser.

    All I am saying is, that if you can beat the MS Office suite of products, then you can win against Microsoft. But that's a product that is really, really good.... and I don't see it as MS taking the fight lying down either.
  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drogo007 (923906) on Monday March 17, 2008 @06:51PM (#22778788)
    Back in the Day, Word Perfect WAS better. But because you couldn't import files from MS's solutions, and MS used it's well-documented anti-competitive practices to push their productivity offerings, the net result was harm to Word Perfect's viability.

    Whether or not Word Perfect could have continued to compete based on merit is a moot point because Microsoft's practices DIDN'T GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO DO SO
  • by iknownuttin (1099999) on Monday March 17, 2008 @07:19PM (#22778966)
    Part of the reason WordPerfect lost favor was because Microsoft was dumping Office at a price WordPerfect couldn't compete at. It wasn't until after Microsoft established a majority presence that they raised Office's price to the prices we see today.

    I remember those days and I don't remember MS dumping. Yes, they were cheaper at the time IIRC, but dumping? No. Wordperfect back then was the king of the word processors.

    Sorry, I think MS won that battle fair and square.

  • by Alien Being (18488) on Monday March 17, 2008 @07:40PM (#22779114)
    "...they lost. Boohoo, get over it."

    It would appear that the fat lady hasn't yet sung.

    It wasn't a fair contest, so they didn't lose in the way a tennis player loses. They lost in the way a mugging victim loses. What you refer to as a business model is what I call organized crime.

    Fashion has nothing to do with why we remember microsoft's bad deeds. With so many M$ fanboys running around, it's quite unfashionable. We remember them because as professionals and as consumers, *we* are still being punished by what they have done and *they* have yet to pay for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2008 @07:41PM (#22779126)
    > Yes, they were cheaper at the time IIRC, but dumping? No. Wordperfect back then was the king of the word processors.

    Yes, dumping. They forced OEMs to license Works (stripped-down Office), made parts of Word into components of Windows, and made sure that Word's file formats were known to no one else.

    Ironically, this should be a technical case the judges can understand. Many law offices STILL use WordPerfect, because it was better.

    > Sorry, I think MS won that battle fair and square.

    You're mistaken, and the rulings thus far seem to back me up on that :)
  • by Rombuu (22914) on Monday March 17, 2008 @07:48PM (#22779164)
    Dumping? What do you think the marginal cost of a copy of Word is? If its $5, I'd be shocked.
  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:10PM (#22779288)

    I remain concerned that some people mistakenly see support of Microsoft as the patriotic thing to do when in fact it has hastened the dumbing down of most of the people exposed to it.
    The current fashion is that dumbing yourself down is considered patriotic, so there's no conflict there.
  • by NullProg (70833) on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:21PM (#22779334) Homepage Journal
    If their software was so superior, why did WordPerfect die?

    Like I responded to an earlier poster,
    http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=490544&cid=22778924 [slashdot.org]

    Microsoft effectively killed it with the Windows Monopoly.

    They, just like Microsoft, were more interested in making money then they ever were in providing consumer choice,

    Your argument is wrong on so many levels...

    Word Perfect made its product available on the MacIntosh, Amiga, Apple ][gs, Atari ST, DOS, Windows, Solaris, and VAX systems. What platforms did Microsoft write Office for? What Windows fees did Microsoft charge computer makers for not bundling Microsoft Office/Works versus the ones who did?

    Did Microsoft offer matching Marketing funds (paid by you for your non choice of an Operating System when purchasing a PC) to computer makers who bundled PFS Windows Works with their Windows based computers instead of computer makers who chose to bundle Office/Works? No, they didn't.

    Is Microsoft evil? No. Are they greedy? Yes. Is there any room for competition within the Microsoft Windows sphere of influence? That remains to be seen. Am I running Linux? Yes. Am I biased? Yes. I haven't had to pay for upgrades or reinstall any Windows machines in my house since switching to Ubuntu. Zero downtime.

    Enjoy,
  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:30PM (#22779388)

    But why does MS have to adopt to the standard?

    Two reasons. First many very large customers want them to do so. Second, because it provides a level playing field with everyone competing based upon the merits of their offerings.

    The problem is, matter of factly, that nothing competes with Office as it stands. Nothing. Not OpenOffice, not Apple's Keynote/Pages, or anything else.

    Then what is the harm of implementing ODF natively in MS Office? If MS's offerings are better based upon real merits, then implementing ODF natively improves their offering and should get them more sales. Why would they fight so hard against it?

    The truth is, MS word is a very poor choice for a lot of people. People who want to to home publishing of a newsletter on their Mac, are probably better off using Pages, especially given how much cheaper it is. Schools who have limited budgets are probably better off using OpenOffice because it is free and they can run it on Linux based labs as well as Windows and Macs and both in the school and at home, all with the same versions and all without any format incompatibilities. It just isn't practical for a school to provide students with a "standard" version of Word that will run on all the machines in the school and in the home (even old ones). For people who are itinerant minstrels traveling from town to town and writing in public libraries, it is a lot easier to use Google Documents via a Web browser than it is to have a copy of MS Office and try to get it installed by the administrators of the library.

    The above are just a few examples. Microsoft has intentionally avoided ODF and are, in fact trying to kill it off as a standard because they want all those people and everyone else to either buy and use MS Office, or use a product that is always going to be second rate as it tries to reverse engineer whatever half-assed format MS is using. They don't want their to be fir competition or for it to be easy for users to buy a product better suited to their needs (which may be inferior in many ways for many uses, but not for that user).

    Microsoft has to have its hand forced. Look at Internet Explorer. Firefox came out, was a BETTER browser, and now Microsoft is finally promising standards compliance in IE8.

    Firefox has been a better browser for many years and MS has been promising "better" standards compliance forever. That doesn't mean they will actually do it. They haven;'t even made promises to do better for most Web standards, just "better" for a small subset. Both IE and MS Office are examples of the free, capitalism market being undermined and consumers suffering retarded innovation, high prices, and inferior products as a result.

    All I am saying is, that if you can beat the MS Office suite of products, then you can win against Microsoft.

    Okay, say you're an investor. You have a few hundred million in capital to invest. You can invest in piezoelectrics or office suites. The former maker s not monopolized so if you invest in it, the return is likely to be proportional. The latter market is monopolized and you'll be going up against a competitor who can introduce artificial problems with your product by breaking compatibility. Worse yet, they have a related monopoly and can use hidden APIs to get better performance on pretty much all computers, while they can introduce "bugs" with every service pack that will slow down or break your product. Sure you can invest in that, but it will take a lot more capital to get a lot smaller return, and ost companies that have tried have died (some who even had superior offerings at the time). Where do you put your investment capital?

    The courts need to act against MS and provide investors and competitors with some faith that antitrust laws will be effectively enforced and competition will be fair. Right now, investors do not have that opinion because the courts have largely ignored MS's abuses and the settlemen

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:56PM (#22779554)

    If their software was so superior, why did WordPerfect die?

    RTFA!!!

    I mean are you trolling or what? The article lists about a dozen anticompetitive actions MS took, including intentionally breaking compatibility with their own formats and breaking APIs Wordperfect used while using secret APIs only MS knew about in Word for better performance than any third party application could attain.

    They, just like Microsoft, were more interested in making money then they ever were in providing consumer choice, or making it easier for us to transfer information. There was nothing stopping them keeping their product active.

    Wordperfect is still an active product. The point of the lawsuit was MS using the fact that they were also developers of Windows to artificially create problems with WordPerfect so it was in consumers' best interests to use Word instead.

    I used to use WordPerfect. It was great. Then Microsoft outmaneuvered them, and they lost. Boohoo, get over it.

    And the fact that they way they did this was through criminal actions should be ignored? Sorry but it used to be that when you commit a crime for profit, you don't get to keep the profits.

    Care to try and convince me that they wouldn't have done exactly the same thing to microsoft, given half a chance?

    Yeah and if a cow had a chance it would eat you and your whole family. Whether Novell or Corel would have broken the law if they thought they could get away with it is immaterial. Microsoft did break the law and so the courts are acting against them.

    People were shifting between companies all the time back then. Microsoft weren't some alien group, they were people with exactly the same goals and level of experience as the competition. They just had the superior business model for the day.

    They still do. It is called "break the law to profit, then bribe politicians so that the fines and settlements are less than what they made by breaking the law in the first place." It works really well in our crooked system. Paying Novel fines is just part of MS's business plan, so I'm not too broken up about them having to actually return a small portion of what they made through their crimes.

  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:07PM (#22779622)
    Yup.

    WP5.1 for DOS? Probably the best DOS-based word processor ever. Clear market dominance. In those days people mostly laughed at Word.

    WP6 for Windows? Steaming pile of crap. They completely did not get the user interface shift that was happening and the new possibilities that a GUI provided until it was much, much too late.

    It's up to the courts to ultimately decide if Microsoft played fair or not, but what's not in question is that, at best, they were fighting dirty (kind of pathetic now that I think about it) to beat a competitor who was already doing a great job of beating themselves. Kind of like kicking WordPerfect in the groin once after WordPerfect inexplicably chugged a bottle of hull cleaner and repeatedly fell on its sword.
  • Re:Almost Perfect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Monday March 17, 2008 @10:51PM (#22780100)
    DDE tho seemingly useful in the day really turns out to be nothing. It was hard to implement DDE perfectly. I remember thinking that there were a lot of technologies that were going to go nowhere and that a lot of companies such as Lotus Development and Word Perfect were going to go the way of the DoDo if they didn't realize this. People were interested in simple solutions with lots of features while Microsoft was driving the trade journals using their advertising dollar to get the reviewers to demand every false feature they could think of. They knew that if they announced features designed by other software vendors they could stifle sales of those products.

    Word Perfect was a great DOS program and they provided every kind of support you can imagine for printing, fonts, etc. But I really never liked editing those codes, though it did make for a more perfect document if you managed to get the hang of it. I was an early adopter and used Wordstar then Word Perfect. I also used MS Word for DOS and found it to be buggy, cumbersome and very much breaking programming conventions that they were telling other vendors not to break. It was obvious they were breaking the programming conventions because as you used it in a multi-user environment it would try to write to the hardware and this was cause for a lot of grief. Little could be done except to not use it.

    The reason they were bleeding cash was because it became obvious that they were tossing in misleading featuresets that were destined to go no where. So, companies such as Lotus and Word Perfect were spinning their wheels trying to implement this stuff.

    When you think about the Pen Computing attack they were simply taking a look at other products features and then announcing they were going to implement this or that feature into windows. Since Windows was the OS and everyone would get it for free few companies had the incentive to compete. We could see the same thing in the browser market during the time that Microsoft was attempting to kill Netscape and when they were trying to destroy Java as a real alternative to platform specific coding. They simply announced this or that feature, the trade journals picked up on it, and the end result was dead in the water competition.

    I used to read articles day in and day out as I read on average 30 trade journals a month back then. There was a lot in print. Reviews were on everything you could imagine. Where Microsoft couldn't compete they just told everyone that this or that market was a dead end and they wouldn't be supporting it, even if the market itself would have accepted that new product.

    Now that we see the philosophy behind their maneuvers (Embrace, Extend, Extinguish), it becomes clear that they were up to more than just competitive rivalry. They controlled the OS and dictated features, etc. Another thing was that there were near constant complaints about undocumented API features that Microsoft's people were taking advantage of that the market knew little about. This also cut seriously into their ability to develop stable efficient code. Not only did the Microsoft people have the Apple GUI programming experience (nothing wrong with that), not that they didn't buy the MS Word product (questionable as to whether they really are capable of producing something on their own), but their Office developers had access to early API coding for Windows and had the upper hand on any changes and hidden features (they probably had a hand in saying which features were to be hidden).

    Today we have Microsoft threatening every feature in their book particularly against any competitor and most particularly against Linux with their unconfirmed, unverified, and unjustified accusations of 235 patent violations. If Microsoft had been held to that same standard back then there would have been few if any real products coming out of Microsoft. Imagine Lotus (or earlier products) demanding Microsoft pay royalties for certain features they stole.

    Back when Lotus 123 was the most sol
  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skrynesaver (994435) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @03:58AM (#22781046) Homepage
    Not sure if you're serious or trolling, but when Excel first came out it certainly didn't blow away Quatro Pro, it was a feature poor piece of crap by comparison and as for

    WordPerfect blew it in the business world when they couldn't figure out how to work correctly with standard Windows print drivers
    Isn't that perhaps a result of anti-competitive monopoly abuse by MS? Didn't they get done for similar exclusionary behaviour towards Lotus-123 ? Aren't Europe still trying to get them to release the full spec of the Windows API ?

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