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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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  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pilgrim23 (716938) on Monday March 17, 2008 @06:57PM (#22778826)
    Many office product worked just fine before the day of MS Office. Microsoft used the 800 pound gorilla standard as a means of purging the market of all but their own. That is not technical elegance wins the day, that is not ease of use wins the day, that is not fair competition of features, abilities and ideas. and that is certainly not sticking to or even creating a new standard.
    Novell had perfectly good Apps what crushed the certainly was not a superior product.
        And here we go again ..
  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sheriff Fatman (602092) on Monday March 17, 2008 @07:36PM (#22779084) Homepage
    I was working in tech support at a building engineering company in 1997 - lots of big contracts, lots of specification documents, lots of complex calculation sheets - and I was there during the migration from WordPerfect 6.1 & Quattro Pro 6.0 to Microsoft Office 97.

    We migrated because our clients started putting clauses in their contracts that all documents and calculation sheets had to be supplied electronically as Microsoft Office documents. There was absolutely no other justification for the migration. Our customers basically forced us to buy Office 97 or they were going to take their business elsewhere. I have no idea why they did this, but I'm guessing Microsoft's 'corporate awareness' strategies must have had something to do with it...

    MS Office was more expensive, and required more powerful (i.e. expensive) PCs. It was technically inferior - users would waste hours tracking down formatting bugs in Word that would have succumbed to WordPerfect's "Reveal Codes" feature in a few seconds; Excel didn't support some fairly obvious features (e.g. copy/paste of '3D' blocks of cells across multiple worksheets) that our Quattro users used daily. We had invested heavily in development of macros and templates for WordPerfect and Quattro Pro, most of which ended up being scrapped because there was no way to migrate them.

    You have no idea how frustrating it was explaining to engineers - technically literate, intelligent, capable users - that they were no longer allowed to use the tools they'd spend time familiarising themselves with because Microsoft had somehow persuaded our customers to insist that we used an inferior product.

    Sure, ten years later, MS Office has overtaken them, and any company trying to compete with Microsoft in the desktop office market have their work cut out for them to say the least - but I honestly believe that Office 95 and 97 killed WordPerfect, and I don't believe they did it by being cheaper, faster or more powerful.
  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2008 @07:36PM (#22779086)
    Sure, you take the quote out of context like Novel is, it certainly looks damning.

    But if you read the email as a whole, you'll realize that they're talking about making the IShellBrowser api public -- not exactly a useful api to writing a browser. In fact, if you read it as a whole you'll see that they're talking about pulling resources that would be used to make the interface public and put those resources on making Office better.
  • Sysadmins (Score:-1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2008 @07:49PM (#22779172)
    As an 'expert' system administrator (albeit unpaid) I have four servers. One is running Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003, one is running Microsoft Window Server 2003, one is running Ubuntu Linux 5.10 (Server), and the other is running Apple OS X Server (10.4).

    I can tell you now that when I first started my company, although I was a major advocate of Linux, I soon found that I did not have the time to maintain a then Gentoo [gentoo.org] or custom LFS [linuxfromscratch.org] distribution, Debian [debian.org] was far too heavy to pick up, and Slackware [slackware.org] felt a little dated. So I took a look at Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003, liked what I saw, and bought a Dell PowerEdge 400SC [dell.co.uk] with an OEM install.

    At first Small Business Server was a breath of fresh air. It was easy to maintain, with a full complement of features, having been bundled with Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, and Window Sharepoint Services. I actually enjoyed - yes, enjoyed - using it.

    Until backup stated to fail. Until my tape drive disappeared. Until the sharepoint website database got corrupted. Until exchange monitoring failed. Until the POP connector started to thrash the CPU. Until the Windows Update website failed to check for updates.

    These things happened. I'm not saying that they wouldn't happed with another system, but that is not the point, since they happened to me, and that caused me grief, and time, and money to resolve. I ended up trying to build a new system based on Microsoft Windows Server 2003, since I already had Microsoft specific data (files and tables), but this proved even more difficult to maintain.

    I struggled for eighteen months, and then decided to build an Ubuntu 5.10 server. I use Ubuntu on one of my laptop, and had gently learnt the apt- way, and liked it. I set up a server with similar features to the Small Business Server, using Postfix [postfix.org], MySQL [mysql.org], and Plone [plone.org], and even went some ways to transferring my sharepoint data. It works. It hasn't failed yet.

    I bet the guys who took part in the survey only set up a server, installed some applications, and patched it. I bet they didn't try running a business for 18-months, just to see what it was really like.

    I must say that we recently purchased an Apple PowerMac, and were so impressed we are now looking at completely switching, hence the OS X Server. It is a dream to install and configure, but we are going to run it for several months until we are satisfied that it can do the job.
  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VGPowerlord (621254) on Monday March 17, 2008 @07:52PM (#22779188)

    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

    As I pointed out in another thread, Microsoft did use predatory pricing to make Word the market leader. However, WordPerfect also had a number of other problems.

    But because you couldn't import files from MS's solutions

    This was, in fact, a failing of WordPerfect, because Microsoft made sure you could import them the other way around.

    The question is, how long did it take the WordPerfect Corporation* and/or Novell to add this to WordPerfect?

    As I recall, Novell was also slow about producing a GUI version of WordPerfect. When they did make a GUI version, they ran into the problem where "WordPerfect's function-key-centered user interface did not adapt well to the new paradigm of mouse and pull-down menus, especially with many of WordPerfect's standard key combinations pre-empted by incompatible keyboard shortcuts that Windows itself used (e.g. Alt-F4 became Exit Program as opposed to WordPerfect's Block Text)." -- Wikipedia, WordPerfect [wikipedia.org]

    As far as I can tell from Wikipedia's Microsoft Office Word [wikipedia.org] article, early versions of Word used menus rather than direct keyboard shortcuts, meaning that they had a much easier time moving to a GUI. Although, Microsoft did later steal a number of keyboard shortcuts from Apple.

    *They sold WordPerfect to Novell.
  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (bob_eissua)> on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:26PM (#22779372) Journal
    Microsoft forced Windows Licensees (computer makers) to carry Microsoft Works, which was in fact, Microsoft Office starter edition.

    In fact, the bundled version of Works would allow you to install the Upgrade version of Office 95 or 97 instead of the full version.

    The first hit is always free....

  • by value_added (719364) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:01PM (#22779588)
    I've known people who learned the program by having Reveal Codes on at all times so that they could see the effects of what they were doing and learn how the program worked.

    There were legions of middle-aged secretaries who did the very same day in and day out. The rest of their time, when they weren't yakking on the phone or doing their nails, they managed a directory structure to store their work, formatted floppies, filled in time sheets, printed out mailing labels, and generally maintained their systems ... all from the command-line.

    Those were the days. ;-)
  • by The-Ixian (168184) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:10PM (#22779630)
    This makes a lot of sense to me now.

    I seem to recall that you could just put in all 1's for the cd-key for the '97 products in order to install them.

    I think also counting up from 1 and then back down worked as well.
  • by IntlHarvester (11985) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:42PM (#22779790) Journal
    I think your memories are overly idealized. Most of those secretaries saved all of their files in the C:\WP51\ directory, and the only way they could find anything was using the fullscreen file browser program that came with WordPerfect. If they used the command line at all, they had a cheatsheet taped to their monitor.

    But it doesn't really matter because businesses got rid of most of their secretaries after GUI word processing became popular.
  • $50? Man,they were getting ripped off.Most places I remember from 95-'00 would just GIVE you the damn thing if you bought a box from them.And it was well known that MSFT didn't care about Win98 piracy,which is how,along with giving sweetheart deals to OEMs,pretty much killed competition from other OS and Office suppliers. Wasn't it Bill Gates himself that said "if they are going to pirate,I want them to pirate from us"?

    I wish them luck,but so far MSFT lately has been their own worst enemy.First Vista(slow and painful) then Office 2K7(confusing and half my shortcuts don't work) and finally getting ready to kill XP(are they REALLY thinking Home Basic on a Wal Mart special is anything but torture?).Maybe this will give someone a chance to come up with a great competitor to Office.OO.o is great on newer machines,but I've found on older office equipment Office 2K just runs better.But as always my 02c,YMMV.

  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@@@pitabred...dyndns...org> on Monday March 17, 2008 @11:06PM (#22780164) Homepage
    Have you EVER done a serious document in Word? Even with 2007 you still need reveal codes, which isn't there. You may not have had use for Wordperfect's features, but people who actually used the power of a word processor and needed more than something like Wordpad provides Wordperfect was, and in many cases still is, better.
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Monday March 17, 2008 @11:37PM (#22780304)
    By the time OEMs were bundling Works with Windows, the game was already over. Prior to that time WordPerfect was the leading Word Processor so Word's file formats had nothing to do with it.

    WordPerfect was designed from the ground up to be a non-GUI application. The fact that the product presented you with a blank sheet uncluttered by menus (until very late versions) was a bragging point. It was a very efficient interface for those who spent hours day after day using it. In other words it was great for the secretarial business model (that's why it's still effective for law offices). Unfortunately for WordPerfect, this model was in decline. The new market was for people who didn't use a word processor all day and just wanted to get up to speed quickly.
  • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Atomic Fro (150394) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @01:04AM (#22780610)

    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.


    I respectfully disagree that they didn't understand what GUI was capable of.
    In this [youtube.com] video of NeXTstep 3, Jobs does a short demo of WordPerfect at about 6:15. The comments of the video date it around 1993. However, according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] there was only 1 version of WordPerfect for NeXT; that was released in 1991. Thats 2 years before WP6 for Windows was released.

    As an earlier poster had said quoting from the book Almost Perfect, the actual problem was that they didn't get Windows. At the time both IBM and Microsoft was telling everyone that OS/2 was the future, not Windows. They didn't want to waste time making a proper port to a system that was, as Microsoft was telling them, destined to be dead. The success of the Windows 3 series surprised everyone, including Microsoft. By the time the WordPerfect developers figured that out, their name was dirt to Windows users.
  • by jdfox (74524) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @05:38AM (#22781332)
    Having a DreamWeaver-like split view like that was an acceptable solution for people like you and me who understand the relationship between underlying markup and rendered text. One troubling side effect, however, was that when you hit the right-arrow key to advance forward a few characters in the default WYSIWYG mode, the blinking cursor would move forward a character, pause, MOVE BACK a character or two, then move forward a character, all the while you were arrowing right. This is because WP was with each right-arrow keystroke traversing both text and unrevealed markup codes, the latter of which were hidden by default.

    Non-technical users in my company thought it was bizarre that WP advanced "right or maybe left" when they hit the right-arrow key. They didn't care to hear explanations about hidden markup codes, and wanted to have just one WYSIWYG frame and get on with their jobs.

    As bad as MS Word for Windows was at the time, all of our non-tech users preferred it, as it didn't demand that they understand concepts like markup, and was far more intuitive. WP was summarily dumped after a few difficult months of trying to make it work the way the users wanted.

    I loathe Microsoft and their current bad-joke products as much as the next person, but back then WordPerfect for Windows was the worse product, apparently hobbled by a design requirement for backward compatibility with its installed DOS user base. MS Word for DOS was vastly inferior to WP for DOS, but Microsoft therefore had the luxury of forcing their small DOS user base to import into a new format for the Windows version, rather than maintain the old DOS doc format at the expense of usability. That strategy appears to have worked.

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