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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 @07:47PM (#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 @07:51PM (#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
      • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sheriff Fatman (602092) on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:36PM (#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.
        • More of the story about why the competitors lost market share:

          1) Microsoft apparently was deliberately allowing piracy of Microsoft Office and other Microsoft products. I know this because I called the Microsoft legal department, accused them of allowing piracy, and forced them to stop some of the local pirate outlets. In response, Microsoft brought one court case. But the other pirates continued. Later Microsoft made it impossible to contact their legal department.

          Legitimate suppliers of alternative products could not compete because computer customers were being offered pirated copies of Microsoft Office for $50 when bought with a computer -- or less.

          2) The people who owned most of the WordPerfect stock did not WANT to compete. You can read the book about this written by the COO of WordPerfect, Almost Perfect, available online [fitnesoft.com].

          My opinion is that Microsoft allowed piracy, and that was the biggest contributing factor toward the failure of competitors.
          • by The-Ixian (168184) on Monday March 17, 2008 @10:10PM (#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.
            • 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 can't remember now whether it was 3-4 digits or 3-7 digits. But if the last seven digits were divisible by 7 then the key was accepted.

              Tim.
          • $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.

        • by zappepcs (820751)
          I agree with you completely. I was there too. I saw that MS took over not because Office is better than what was available, but because it came bundled with the OS. The prevailing thought of the day was why pay twice for a spreadsheet? MS bullied their way into the office desktop. It DID require bigger hardware. Access had easter eggs in it that were bigger than the competition's product!
      • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by VGPowerlord (621254) on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:52PM (#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.
        • by dwater (72834)

          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?

          It occurs to me that this is *still* a problem since the file format needs to be reverse engineered. Am I wrong that this is the case, or is it that this wasn't the case back then?

          I seems that WordPerfect's file format was more easily obtained, no?

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

          by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday March 17, 2008 @11:11PM (#22779898)

          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?

          WordPerfect used marked up text that was easily readable, and provided the specification. MS Word used an intentionally obscured binary format that actually included random data from the hard disk (sometimes including "deleted" files that were recoverable using third party tools). Worse, MS Word also read and wrote Rich Text Files, which they made the standard for file transfers on the Windows OS. They intentionally changed both of these formats constantly to keep third parties from accurately reverse engineering them for compatibility.

          Your assertion that this was a problem with WordPerfect is true, but it was an artificial problem Microsoft created using their desktop OS monopoly, which is one of the reasons why MS has been losing their absurdly drawn out case.

          As I recall, Novell was also slow about producing a GUI version of WordPerfect.

          They were only a year and a half behind Word for GUI (WYSIWYG) but they were another year behind in bringing it to Windows.

          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

          Actually, WordPerfect switched to a tool palette menu that was very highly reviewed and pretty much universally considered superior to Word's later toolbar format, but MS redefined the UI guidelines for Windows such that WordPerfect had to scrap their existing GUI and quickly implement a toolbar. That is, in fact, one of the antitrust complaints.

          I think it is pretty easy to see that MS was unfairly creating artificial problems with WordPerfect that were not problems in Word, using their Windows monopoly. They used secret APIs, constantly changed their formats, and repeatedly made changes to Windows that disadvantaged WordPerfect. In short, they are guilty as hell, but such a ruling comes so late that the market is utterly destroyed and there is no real competition. The biggest competitors left for MS Office are WordPerfect (leftover stronghold niches and alternate platforms), OpenOffice (run as a communal copyleft, nonprofit project to exclude it from traditional market pressures), and iWork (only available on a niche platform that has an entire vertical chain of hardware: OS: end-user apps to bypass MS's desktop monopoly influence). It is pretty clear there is no capitalist free market at work for office suites and any monetary compensation may make Novell shareholders a little happier, but is far too late to help consumers. Hopefully the EU courts will prove to be more efficient, faster, and actually do something to make MS create the best product at the lowest price if they actually want to make sales.

          • by phorm (591458)
            Any links on the random drive data thing. Sounds dirty, and might be a good point for seeing MS lose a case like this.
        • As I recall, Novell was also slow about producing a GUI version of WordPerfect.
          BTW: WordPerfect Corp. (before Novell bought them out) was the one dragging its heals on the GUI.
          Why?
          Because they though Windows 3.0 was going to flop.
          When Windows 3.1 came out and caught on big, WPC released WordPerfect 5.2 for windows.
          WordPerfect 5.2 was a dog and the rest is marketing...
        • This was, in fact, a failing of WordPerfect, because Microsoft made sure you could import them the other way around.

          And how do you figure that? Does Microsoft have a record of documenting its formats openly, in a way that's implementable by third parties? Does the acronym "OOXML" mean anything to you? Just possibly the same pernicious crap they pull today was being pulled in the 80s and 90s. Just possibly...
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by KingMotley (944240)
        You must have forgotten Word Perfect 6.0. Terrible printer support, couldn't support high resolution monitors without specific WP drivers that noone wrote. It was super slow, a memory pig, and didn't support Truetype fonts (Or any kind of fonts). Everyone hated it. That's what called WP.

        And that was WP's solution to Microsoft Word, where you could drag and drop pictures, screenshots, etc and move them around the document with ease. Sorry, but for anyone trying to do layout at the time WP was a DOG. Wo
        • by jbengt (874751)
          I never used WP 6.0, but WP 5.2, 6.1, and 8.0 were each much better than the concurrent MS Word versions, in my experience.
      • by IntlHarvester (11985) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:55PM (#22779540) Journal
        Back in the Day, Word Perfect WAS better.

        You really have no clue. The early versions of WordPerfect for Windows were some of the hugest pieces of shit ever shat.
        • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday March 17, 2008 @10:07PM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Atomic Fro (150394)

            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

            • Supposedly, every version of WP was basically written from scratch in ASM. So any goodness in the NextStep product would not be transitive to the Windows version.

              Also the OS/2 version of WordPerfect was somehow even shittier than the Windows version, so there goes that theory.

              As people have said, the real problem was that WP wasn't just trying to write applications, they were trying to fight both Microsoft and IBM over who controlled the printing infrastructure.
          • by tsa (15680)
            I agree with your post wholeheartedly. Luckily around the time 6 was out, I switched to Linux, and WP had Linux versions of their software. I wrote my Ph.D. thesis in WP7 back in 1999, and I laughed at the people who struggled with Word. Our university back then had decided that everything MS did was good and they were to be worshipped, and it's surprising how many scientists believed that. My vision of scientists as independant, self-relying people who don't usually take things they are told for granted wa
          • by powerlord (28156)
            I'm sorry, but you're wrong.

            In 1992 I was working in computer lab on campus. All the Windows terminals (running Win 3.11, or Win 3.0 if they accidentally booted off the local drive instead of doing a network boot, like they were supposed to), had MS Word 5.

            I was using WordPerfect 6 on my computer back in the dorm (and later version 6.1, 6.2 and 7 ... which suffered in performance). I was introduced to both platforms simultaneously, and I was consistently amazed at how much more difficult it was to do some
        • by bursch-X (458146)
          I double that. The only time I ever used WordPerfect was on Windows 3.1 on my dad's computer and after a while I just failed to comprehend, how a) someone would pay money for such a piece of shit (WP and Windows, that is) and b) could even try to run a business on such a piece of shit software.

          (I was already using a Mac at that time).
      • 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

        I'm here to tell you that Wordperfect still works just fine, and yes, it is better than Word. Our law office uses Wordperfect 10, and nobody wants to switch any time soon. I expect we'll upgrade to Wordperfect X3 (yes, Corel is still making new versions of Wordperfect) before we ever switch to Office. I know that our office, though in the minority, is far from singular in continuing to support Wordperfect over Word, despite the fact that Microsoft Office formats dominate electronic Court filings in my nec

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

      by Naughty Bob (1004174) on Monday March 17, 2008 @07:53PM (#22778806)
      Think back to the early 90s, WordPerfect ruled the land. Then Sweet William emailed his minions instructing them to deliberately withhold the knowledge of Windows' inner workings, so that Novell would be left out in the cold. The relevant quote from Ars Technica's front page story-

      "I have decided that we should not publish these extensions," wrote Gates. "We should wait until we have away to do a high level of integration that will be harder for likes of Notes, WordPerfect to achieve, and which will give Office a real advantage... We can't compete with Lotus and WordPerfect/Novell without this."
      Kinda damning.
      • Actually, WordPerfect Corporation was dead set against creating a Windows version for a long time. When they finally did so reluctantly, it was a half-assed job. Of course, the silliest part of this suit is that WordPerfect and Quatro were already failing products before Novell bought them. Otherwise WordPerfect Corp and Borland wouldn't have sold them to Novell in the first place.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pilgrim23 (716938)
      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 ag
    • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:5, Informative)

      by NullProg (70833) on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:14PM (#22778924) Homepage Journal
      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.
      OK, this case isn't about OpenOffice or anything else currently available for you to buy. This case isn't about standard file formats. This case is about Microsoft using their Windows Monopoly to kill off competing products.

      Back in the day. they didn't bundle computers with Word Perfect/dBase/Quatro Pro (Which was better than Excel at one point). Microsoft forced Windows Licensees (computer makers) to carry Microsoft Works, which was in fact, Microsoft Office starter edition. Computer makers could not sign deals with software vendors (bundling) such as Borland, Word Perfect Corp. or any other without having their Windows License fees raised.

      If there was any innovations in Spread Sheet/Word Processing technology to make, we will never know. Microsoft killed off all the commercial competition using the Windows License Fee of Death (LFoD?). To see that Google Desktop Search is bundled with a new Dell XP/Vista computer shows you how much Microsoft has been neutered by the DOJ.

      Enjoy,
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ozmanjusri (601766)
        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 Hatta (162192)
      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....

      Wow, sounds like a classic case of Stockholm syndrome [wikipedia.org].
    • Re:Sorry to say... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:30PM (#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 MeNeXT (200840)
      I'm sorry to say there's nothing in Office that most business needs to compete with....Never had a need for it. As a matter of fact I've never had a need for proprietary formats. Once you get that out of the way there is nothing that office offers that can't be achieved by other programs. If Office is your tool fine by you but Office in no way can meet my expectations just by the simple fact that it's limited to one platform (please don't say it's available for the Mac,Word may be somewhat compatible, Excel
    • by MBC1977 (978793)
      See I look at it like this: If I am a little fish (Microsoft, circa 1989) and want to win marketshare, I create a standard and promote it. That may be hard for some to accept, but Microsoft acted smartly -- develop your own standard and get people to jump on the bandwagon. I remember Wordperfect it was great up to version 5.1 and then Microsoft bought Ami (a little French word processing company) shortly after releasing windows and tweaked it to make MS Word. While some may claim that Wordperfect was th
    • I have quite a few clients who bought PCs with Office 2007 installed and the ones that didn't have Office 2003 CDs, are all over the moon with OpenOffice.org.
      • No Shit!! Office 2007 is a piece of fucking dog shit. then again guess what all the current college students are learning to use right now?
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by chromatic (9471)

          ... guess what all the current college students are learning to use right now?

          BitTorrent clients?

  • If you find yourself striding through courtrooms with the judge on your side, do not be triumphant; for you aren't in Ellysium. Your market's already dead.

  • WordPerfect rocked (Score:5, Informative)

    by Laebshade (643478) <laebshade@gmail.com> on Monday March 17, 2008 @07:52PM (#22778792)
    I remember using it in high school ('99?) and how the format you saved in, by default, was simply a type of marked up text; in the editor, you could go to a certain mode that would allow you to edit out the markup code itself (a lot like a wysiwyg editor for html, but... well, html isn't really known for any kind of real word processing). This was so powerful, and when I had a class on Word, I hated it didn't have that feature.

    If WordPerfect could read/write ODF, I would go out and buy a legitimate copy (no, I don't even have a pirate copy - it's useless unless you don't need to share your document with others).

    WordPerfect made sense. I'm glad justice is (possibly) on it's way to be served.
  • Almost Perfect (Score:5, Informative)

    by westlake (615356) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:34PM (#22779412)
    W.E. Peterson joined WordPerfect in 1980 as a part time office manager and left as Executive V.P of Sales in 1992. Almost Perfect [amazon.com]

    "Listen" would be the theme for 1990.

    In January Microsoft offered to make us a beta test site for Windows 3.0. We accepted their generous offer, but did little more than look Windows over. In hindsight, it is easy to see we should have done much more right away.

    Some of us were ready to postpone OS/2 in favor of Windows, but the programmers in the OS/2 group, who had also been given the assignment of eventually creating the Windows version, were not ready to give up on OS/2. They were making good progress and hated the idea of starting over... They wanted to believe in IBM, as did the rest of us. The failure of OS/2 meant having to play on a field owned and operated by Microsoft, with Microsoft making the rules.

    In May Microsoft shipped Windows 3.0, and our worst fears became a reality. Just at the time we were decisively winning in the DOS word processing market, the personal computing world wanted Windows, bugs and all. To make matters worse, Microsoft Word for Windows was already on dealer shelves and had received good reviews. That little cloud on the horizon, which had looked so harmless in 1986, was all around us, looking ominous and threatening. IBM's strength and size were no protection. Not even an elephant could ignore the impending storm.

    WordPerfect Office was turning into a big problem. The program was useful, but it had a few weaknesses. The directory services, which listed all the people on the mail system with their electronic addresses, could not hold more than one or two thousand people. The schedular, which could be used to put together a meeting, was slow and sometimes unreliable. Installing the program was a very difficult process.

    1991...was our year to "think."

    Our biggest [problem] was the continued delay in the shipment of WordPerfect for Windows. Just one week after Fall COMDEX in 1990, the Windows programmers informed us that the dates we had given...would be impossible to meet. ... We were in deep trouble.

    We...took too long to make our experienced DOS programmers get involved. They could have helped a little more, but we had a hard time convincing them that the Windows project was more important than anything else. With sales still going up, many thought things were going too well to be concerned.

    One big problem was getting all the different Office development groups to work together. By now we had teams for PC networks, for the Macintosh, and for UNIX, DG, and DEC machines. Unfortunately, none of the groups seemed to be willing to work out their differences.

    Our long term success was, I thought, dependent on diversity. If the world was filled only with Windows machines, then Microsoft would have a tremendous advantage. If instead the world was filled with DOS, Windows, OS/2, Macintosh, and UNIX machines, we could maintain our advantage in the personal computer word processing market.

    Our theme for 1992 was "focus."

    We were...disappointed by the lukewarm WPwin reviews. The reviewers complained that the product was a little slow and a little buggy, and they were right. Long gone were the days when I could take a WordPerfect review home and be certain I would enjoy reading it.

    We needed to get a cleaner and faster version of WPwin out the door, but it would take some time. Microsoft was heavily promoting DDE (dynamic data exchange)... In theory, if we wrote our program to support Microsoft's specifications, a WPwin document could give and receive information to and from other programs. Instead of releasing another version of WPwin right away, the programmers wanted to delay the release so the new feature could be included..

    We were in a battle to the death w

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HermMunster (972336)
      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 ev
      • Except I was naive enough to follow their advice, and it hosed our domain server. So when I called them back they wanted me to crack my wallet before they would fix the problem they caused. I sent through several levels of supervisors and finally got someone to promise to call me back... then I did what I should have done in the first place and checked online (Usenet, this was before Google) and had everything fixed and working by the time they got back to me.
  • by EEPROMS (889169) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:44PM (#22779478)
    How many Microsoft software engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb ?

    Non, Microsoft defines darkness at the new standard.
  • As someone who used Word Perfect, then Word Perfect Suite, for many years, I will tell you straight-up and without any question that it blew the doors off Word and Office. I've still got original editions of WP Suite 7 and Office Professional 9, though I've long-since been forced to put them on the shelf.

    The triumph of Microsoft Office was a triumph of mediocrity and bloat over quality.

  • Can you hear the sound of the fiddle and the drum
    Passing, then fade?
    Can you hear the sound of chanting in the streets
    Screaming for better days?
    You've heard it all, yes we've all heard it all
    So tell me what has changed?
    You've seen it all, yes we've all seen it all
    So tell me what has changed?
    And the palace stays the same
    Only the guards ever change
    So lay me down, oh lay me down, yeah lay me down, lay me down
    Oh lay me down, ah lay me down, yeah lay me down, lay me down
    *violin solo*
    And you've heard the singer si

In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.

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