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Court Clears Novell To Sue Microsoft Over WordPerfect

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  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx . b c.ca> on Thursday May 05, 2011 @01:48PM (#36037616) Journal

    There's closing the barn door after the animals have left and then there's just.... uhm... I'm at a complete loss as to what a metaphor for this would be.

    Wordperfect was relevant once... I even remember using it.

    But it isn't now. Live with it. Move on, for chrissake!

    • by esocid (946821) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @01:55PM (#36037726) Journal
      Hi, I'm 1990, I'd like to sue 2011 please.
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @01:58PM (#36037778) Homepage
      This is closing the barn door after the barn has burnt down. And been rebuilt.

      But Justice (and lawyer's fees) will have their day!
      • by neoshroom (324937) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @02:33PM (#36038352)

        Yeah, but do you remember WordPerfect? It was way way way better than Microsoft Word and always was. Some of it's features even modern word processors don't have. For example, it had a MakeItFit feature where it would make what you already wrote fit any amount of pages by making very small adjustments to font size, margins and line spacing to hit the desired page count. You can't imagine how much work that saved me in high school (both from going under and going over the requested length). What modern word processor has that feature?

        WordPerfect deserved to win and Microsoft Word did not get it's dominant position through innovation or a superior product. It's more like closing the barn door after a competing farmer stole all your cows and torched your barn ten years ago, so you had to sell the farm.

        • by Squeezer (132342)

          Word 2010 has this feature. It is called Shrink To Fit. http://blogs.office.com/b/microsoft-word/archive/2010/09/10/shrink-to-fit-in-word.aspx [office.com]

          • Yeah, but Wordperfect's MakeItFit feature would expand it to fit as well as shrink it to fit. If you typed a paper that needed to be 7 pages, but what you wrote was only 5 pages MakeItFit would increase font size and adjust margins to make it work out. I loved that feature.
            • by tehcyder (746570)

              Yeah, but Wordperfect's MakeItFit feature would expand it to fit as well as shrink it to fit. If you typed a paper that needed to be 7 pages, but what you wrote was only 5 pages MakeItFit would increase font size and adjust margins to make it work out. I loved that feature.

              I think that says more about how retarded your teachers were than how great Wordperfect was.

        • by Andy Smith (55346)

          "What modern word processor has that feature?"

          Serif Page Plus :-)

        • by fermat1313 (927331) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @02:53PM (#36038682)

          WordPerfect lost its dominant position for one reason - their own miscalculation. In the early 90s, WordPerfect didn't think that the Windows 3.x craze would catch on, and they didn't put their development efforts fully into the Windows product. It wasn't until 1991 that they announced WordPerfect for Windows, and it was a disaster, just a GUI front end on top of their DOS engine. In late 1992, they finally came out with a decent Windows version. By then much of the world had moved on to Word. They were slow to support OLE, slow to integrate with PlanPerfect, and later with Quattro Pro, slow to see the power of an integrated office suite, slow slow slow! In addition, MS PowerPoint was orders of magnitude better than anything out there, and it worked with Word and Excel.

          Sometimes in business, management makes a severe miscalculation. Bruce Bastian and Alan Ashton blew it in 1989/1990. Maybe WordPerfect was better, but it was just too damn late.

          • You're leaving out one important point. At the time Windows 3.x came out Microsoft was telling developers of products that competed with theirs that OS/2 (which was a joint MS / IBM product at the time) was the os of the future. Consequently, WordPerfect put most of their development effort behind an OS/2 port. WordPerfect may have miscalculated, but they made their decision based, in part, on information from MS.
            • by FlyingGuy (989135)

              Nail on the head. Almost no one remembers DataEase [wikipedia.org] which was a 4GL database program from the 80's that just kicked serious ass. I would import over a dozen different data formats, export to just as many. It had a completely visual form builder and report writer that was based on SQL they called DQL, built in custom menus, quick reports, menu / form / field level security and was the first all in one database program to take advantage of the LIM spec for extended memory, supported optimistic concurrency a

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            WordPerfect also blew a big chunk of the revenues from their office suite on tech support. You'd call in, and one of 1000 or so well-trained staff would answer almost instantly and talk you through how to solve your problem.

            Ever try calling tech support for Lotus, or Microsoft, or just about anyone else? Endless voicemail maze, eventually you wait on hold for half an hour to reach someone who doesn't speak your language and has never used the product. Much, much cheaper for the company.

            • by WhiteDragon (4556) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @03:57PM (#36040014) Homepage Journal

              WordPerfect also blew a big chunk of the revenues from their office suite on tech support. You'd call in, and one of 1000 or so well-trained staff would answer almost instantly and talk you through how to solve your problem.

              Ever try calling tech support for Lotus, or Microsoft, or just about anyone else? Endless voicemail maze, eventually you wait on hold for half an hour to reach someone who doesn't speak your language and has never used the product. Much, much cheaper for the company.

              Yes, indeed, WordPerfect tech support was best in the industry, hands down.

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              WordPerfect also blew a big chunk of the revenues from their office suite on tech support. You'd call in, and one of 1000 or so well-trained staff would answer almost instantly and talk you through how to solve your problem.

              Ever try calling tech support for Lotus, or Microsoft, or just about anyone else? Endless voicemail maze, eventually you wait on hold for half an hour to reach someone who doesn't speak your language and has never used the product. Much, much cheaper for the company.

              Thing was, you didn't need to call Lotus or Microsoft's helpline very often. Their products worked properly.

          • by smbarbour (893880)

            In addition, MS PowerPoint was orders of magnitude better than anything out there, and it worked with Word and Excel.

            Where are the +1 Funny upvotes for this?

            PowerPoint is like Heroin... Both were marketed as "The Cure for What Ails You" but they just result in lost productivity.

          • by metamatic (202216)

            WordPerfect lost its dominant position for one reason - their own miscalculation. In the early 90s, WordPerfect didn't think that the Windows 3.x craze would catch on, and they didn't put their development efforts fully into the Windows product.

            And then later, they decided it wasn't important to have cross-platform capability for your word processor, so they killed the Mac version after the 1996 release. So every company that had both Mac and Windows users and wanted to edit documents was pretty much forced to migrate to Word, even if 95% of their users were running Windows.

          • by hawk (1151)

            That may have been *a* reason, but it wasn't even *close* to the main reason.

            Computers started shipping with hard drives of staggering capacity, 40 or even 80 megabytes of storage, as standard equipment. *Massive* amounts of blank space.

            For a very small royalty, manufacturers could slap MS word & excel on every machine. And they did.

            Until that, those products were distant thirds (ok, excel may have been a distant second). Once they shipped with machines, however, going out and buying an adequate prod

        • by dunezone (899268)
          I read that a major problem was that Wordperfect didn't have a GUI until 1993 and by then Microsoft was ahead of them by 3 years.
          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            Not really. Until WIndows 95 the majority of people still used DOS apps. WordPrefect 5.1 was used for years in the Legal profession after Windows was everywhere. IMHO what killed WordPerfect was what killed Lotus 123 and that was it was too popular of a DOS program. It was next to impossible for those and many other programs to make the move to a WIMP interface without ticking off their customer base. The Problem was they had two choices. 1. Make the program have all new WIndows user Interface and tick of

            • by Drishmung (458368)

              Microsoft had no real market share with Word on DOS. They killed MultiPlan and then used the Mac as their development platform. Excel was originally an Mac program.

              As were Word and PowerPoint.

              MS had a fine DOS WP called Word. When they made a WP for the Mac, they called it "Word", but it had nothing else in common with Word for DOS---just the name. It didn't have the same feature set, and it didn't even work (much) alike, mainly because the Mac version was WIMP and the DOS version was text.

              When MS decided they needed a WP for Windows, they ported the Mac version of Word (using an emulation layer) rather than adding WIMP features to the DOS version. Subsequently, they

              • by LWATCDR (28044)

                Microsoft Word for DOS was okay but it was SLOW. It used graphics for everything and worked with a mouse. Frankly nobody wanted it. I know because the computer store I worked at had several copies of it and the owner gave me one because nobody was ever going to use it.
                We actually sold a lot more systems with Wordstar on them but that was when WordPerfect was just starting to get traction. Back then there was a lot of compitions. PerfectWriter, XYWrite, Word, Wordstar, WordPerfect, QnA "Loved that program" a

                • by Lehk228 (705449)
                  it was great for keyboarding class in the early 2000's, programmable macros and predictable 4 line blocks to type made cheating trivial. map ctrl-enter to up up up up home holdshift down down down down end releaseshift ctrl-c return return ctrl-v return
            • by markdavis (642305)

              Wordperfect (in both GUI and text version) was also available for Unix and Linux too (until it stopped at 8). Something that MS-Word never was.

              We STILL use WordPerect 8 under Linux today although it is mostly for legacy- we have moved most everything to OpenOffice.

              In many ways, WordPerfect still is better than MS-Word and OpenOffice Writer.

              • by LWATCDR (28044)

                Yep but it took WordPerfect a while to get a good GUI. I had WordPerfect on my Amiga as well.

        • by DRJlaw (946416)

          WordPerfect deserved to win and Microsoft Word did not get it's dominant position through innovation or a superior product. It's more like closing the barn door after a competing farmer stole all your cows and torched your barn ten years ago, so you had to sell the farm.

          Having lived through the WordPerfect 5.x - Microsoft Word for Windows ("WfW") era and made the transition myself, all I can say is "bollocks." WordPerfect was far more difficult to use than WfW for the entry level user, lacked much in the w

          • by neoshroom (324937)

            What was wrong with Wordperfect 7? I loved that version.

            Most of peoples complaints were that Wordperfect was slow to get on Win 3.1, which I likely didn't notice since I was pugging away on an 8088 and upgraded only to a blazingly fast 486 right at the tail end of Win 3.1 before Win 95. Computers were expensive back then!

            Wordperfect ran on both.

        • You want to know why MS Office won? Piracy! The older versions of Office were beyond easy to pirate, hell I even remember one of them would take all 1s or all 0s as the serial number!

          It is the same reason why cheaper alternatives to PhotoShop never have a chance. The kids snatch PS, they learn PS, and this helps Adobe in the long run to sell to businesses. I can't find the link ATM but back in the day old Bill himself said something along the lines of "If they are gonna pirate I want them to pirate us instead of our competitor, as we can always find a way later to turn them into a paying customer".

          Hell I would argue that is why they've never tried making a "hack proof" Windows activation and they never seem to go out and shut down those WGA kill programs. It is because they know there is no way in hell Linux will ever gain a foothold on the desktop as long as it is easy to pirate Windows. Only problem they have at MSFT is someone forgot to fill Ballmer in as those $50 Win 7 HP licenses was turning pirates legit left and right, so instead of killing it they should have kept it and turned the pirates into paying customers.

          So I'd love to see how they are gonna argue this one in court, as repeated studies show PS is easy to snatch and that is why PS ends up being used in business, because everybody already knows how to run it. Are they gonna argue that it isn't fair for MSFT not to try to make their programs uncopyable? Or that legit Office users should have to jump through flaming activation hoops so WP would be the easier product to snatch? Because I don't see how the black market helping a product can be simply sued away.

          • by mark-t (151149)

            It is because they know there is no way in hell Linux will ever gain a foothold on the desktop as long as it is easy to pirate Windows.

            That statement is equally true when you discard the condition. All the words after "desktop" are superfluous.

        • Almost Perfect (Score:3, Interesting)

          by westlake (615356)

          Yeah, but do you remember WordPerfect? It was way way way better than Microsoft Word and always was.
          WordPerfect deserved to win and Microsoft Word did not get it's dominant position through innovation or a superior product.

          That is not how the story is told by someone who was there from the beginning:

          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.

          Afterword

          What, in your opinion, were the critical marketing mistakes made by WordPerfect from your departure up until the acquisition by Novell?

          WPCorp spent themselves to death. The last full year I was there (1991) sales were approximately $600 million and pre-tax profit was $200 million. In 1992, sales fell to about $570 million, but expenses grew to equal sales. 1993 sales were about $700 million (if that number can be believed), but expenses grew to more than $700 million. The employee count from early 1992 to the end of 1993 grew from about 3,300 to 5,500, and the company was bleeding cash.

          WPCorp needed better products to compete, and they needed a suite of products. The products didn't get better, and selling a Borland Office (rather than a WordPerfect Office) was silly. By spending away all their cash, the company had no chance of recovering. By not developing better products in a productive and efficient way, the company had no chance of recovering. Given Microsoft's strength, perhaps WordPerfect Corp never would have been able to reclaim their number one position in the word processing market, but they could have survived if they would have kept their expenses in check.

          Almost Perfect [wordplace.com]

          In the DOS era, WordPerfect was supporting every platform known to man - and distracted by internal partisan rivalries. The transition to a GUI came particularly hard.

        • Yeah, I really loved that blank blue screen, the lack of menus, the fact that you had to "just know" how to use the fucking thing, vi was free and just as unfriendly, hows about ed? Huh? I used Wordstar, it had menus, you didn't need to study a manual to use it, I don't know why it didn't catch on.

          • To see the menus, just press ALT. However, given the tiddly screens in those days (EGA - today's phones are better than that), the menu was best hiden after a couple of hours practice. (Yes, the default was menus visible).

            Disclaimer: I have been to Provo, Utah, and they do not sell beer there)

          • by hawk (1151)

            Do *NOT* mess with ed!

            damn kids.

            hawk, checking his lawn

        • by INT_QRK (1043164)
          Funny. I remember when PeachText was the cats pajamas, but then WordStar prevailed and went on to rule the roost for a fair bit. Then there was that "Enable" crap - never mind that. I always thought that WordPerfect kind of ripped off WordStar because it also used the "K" formatting codes, but then so did Word, at least under the hood, for the first part of its existence. Funny thing was that each in its own time, there was typically one dominant player. The only time there seemed to be any real competition
        • It was way way way better than Microsoft Word and always was.

          Debatable on the DOS versions. Word for DOS wasn't anything great. Gotta disagree with you on the Windows versions. They were at least comparable and the consensus seemed to be that Word was regarded as the better product by most.

          Some of it's features even modern word processors don't have.

          A double edged sword if there ever was one... That's not necessarily a bad thing. I remember with little fondness the little cards you had to attach to the function keys so that you could remember the gazillion totally non-intuitive functions that were available. Virtually every keyboard in every office at one time had one of those little things attached to it. Ugh.

          WordPerfect deserved to win and Microsoft Word did not get it's dominant position through innovation or a superior product.

          "Deserved to win"? They failed to recognize that Windows was the future and came out with an late, buggy and arguably inferior product well after the migration to Word was under way. You can argue that Microsoft used some underhanded tactics but Wordperfect had the dominant position and they unquestionably screwed it up. Word was nothing amazing but some of the main reasons Wordperfect "died" was from self inflicted wounds. They had a dominant market position and failed to recognize where the market was going.

        • by neoshroom (324937)

          Also, while I'm not positive on this, I believe WordPerfect introduced the grammar-check before Word. And even if it did not, WordPerfect's old grammer-check still beats Word's horrible grammar-check to this day.

        • by st0nes (1120305)
          In my opinion WP 5.1 was the best word processor ever made. And it fitted on 2 floppies and ran on my 286 with a 10MB hard drive and all of 250k memory.
        • by tehcyder (746570)
          Well why didn't you and the rest of the WP fanboys keep on buying it if it was so fucking great? Oh, mwah mwah, nasty Microsoft made a product that was easier and smoother to use for most normal people.

          No, Word couldn't pilot a fucking space mission or give you a blowjob like WP probably could, it was a text editor with nice simple highlight and click-a-button formatting. Oh, and when you printed it came out like it looked on the screen, without having to learn a virtual programming language.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        Apt comparison. I concede to you, good sir.
    • Closing the barn door after the barn has been torn down?

    • It's still relevant for me. I've got a copy open right now, writing a letter. You'll pry my copy of Wordperfect from my cold dead hands.

      • If you are still using WordPerfect, you are probably already <cue scary music> undead .
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        It's still relevant for me. I've got a copy open right now, writing a letter. You'll pry my copy of Wordperfect from my cold dead hands.

        Wordperfect, the choice of Osama Bin Laden.

    • by richlv (778496)

      closing the barn door where velociraptors were kept ?

    • by hawk (1151)

      I am an attorney, but this is not legal advice. If you need legal advice in this matter, my minimum retainer for antitrust issues is $10,000.

      Anyway . . .

      It all depends upon the damages.

      If the court finds that Wordperfect lost 50% of the word processor market due to anti-competitive behavior, the damages are *staggering*.

      Just how much is 50% of that market worth today--and then treble it. And that's before 15 years of lost profits, with interest . . .

      hawk, esq.

  • by Walking The Walk (1003312) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @01:49PM (#36037632)

    From TFA:

    The issue before the appeals court was whether the Caldera settlement [from the 1996-2000 case] also included the associated office productivity software, WordPerfect and Quattro Pro

    The way I read that, it doesn't have to do with how many years ago Novell sold WordPerfect, it has to do with an old court case in which the parties are disputing what the settlement covered.

  • First UBL gets killed, then this. I've been so worried all these years that justice would never be served, but my hope has been renewed.
  • Reveal Codes... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zanian (1621285) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @02:00PM (#36037812)

    is the only thing I really miss about WP. I only switched over to OO and then LO with my switch to Linux, but back in the day, I couldn't write without reveal codes.

    • OMG!!!!!!! Reveal Codes!!!!!!!!!!!
    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      is the only thing I really miss about WP. I only switched over to OO and then LO with my switch to Linux, but back in the day, I couldn't write without reveal codes.

      Literally every person I've ever talked to about it says the same thing, including my 65 year old mother. It was a killer feature and anybody who used it misses it.

      • by hibiki_r (649814)

        Creating content and formatting it for print are two very different things, which word processors try to combine into one. When writing a document, codes should be mostly irrelevant. When formatting, they should make all the difference. While WP did not separate both concepts well, the fact that the text entry wasn't WYSIWYG, all while it allowed users to enter reveal codes mode when working on formatting made merging the tasks make a lot more sense than it does today in Word.

        For any situation where the tex

    • Gods yes. If OO/LO/whatever wants me to go through the bother of uninstalling my old OpenOffice and installing a new version, all they need to do is add something feature-identical to Reveal Codes. Hell, I'd consider switching to another suite altogether if it had that.

  • The court also certified a class-action suit against Studebaker over frequent automatic transmission failures in the 1953 Studebaker "Commander" model.

    • by reemul (1554)

      Hey, up until 5 years or so ago there was still a brand-new, never sold, never left the lot, Studebaker sitting in the dealer showroom right in front of a huge window.

      Of course, the dealer had died decades earlier and the heirs were *still* arguing about the inheritance and kept it in limbo, so the property was kept untouched all those years, gathering dust and fading under the sun. Not too far outside Pittsburgh, I saw it a few years before it finally disappeared. My dad used to drive past it every time he

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I was a Corel shareholder (then having major Linux and Office ambitions) when they were acquired in a shady takeover by company with MS affiliations.

    WIKI: "In August 2003, Corel was wholly acquired by Vector Capital, a private equity firm, for $1.05 a share (slightly more than the cash in the company)."!!

    I then invested whatever was left in Novell (then having major Linux ambitions, and the Office market manipulation suit against MS) when in March (this year) they were acquired in a shady takeover by compan

    • by jonwil (467024)

      What killed Corel was the Dot Com crash.
      Before the crash, Corel was in talks to merge with software tools maker Borland. But when the crash happened, the merger fell through and Corel ended up on shaky ground (which resulted in the buyout and the end of the Corel Linux work)

  • ...suite of e-mail, task management and calendar applications. The appeals court decided that such a suite could not be considered productivity software...

    Good call. Too much time is wasted using it...

  • Word Perfect's equation editor language kicked much ass as well.

  • I Was There (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dugn (890551) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @07:17PM (#36042536) Homepage
    The two founders of WordPerfect, Bruce Bastian and Dr. Alan Ashton were looking to retire and sell off the company. WordPerfect produced GroupWise and WordPerfect. The soon-to-be released versions of WordPerfect 6.1 (Windows) and 6.0 (UNIX) were getting rave reviews. As soon as they were released, they were sure to take MS Word by storm, put the last nail in WordStar's coffin and secure WordPerfect as the de facto word processor on the planet.

    At the same time, Novell was having a hard time showing the value of NetWare-connected machines. Companies were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to install NetWare, but weren't seeing the value of 'networked' machines without an application to showcase NetWare-connected PCs.

    Novell approached Alan and Bruce with an offer to purchase GroupWise. But Alan and Bruce were unwilling to split the company into two. Novell insisted and pushed. Novell finally agreed to buy the company (WordPerfect + GroupWise) - as a whole - for the negotiated price.

    This all happened right before mass production of the new and highly reviewed WordPerfect products was to begin. All that was needed was for the 'Golden Bits' to be delivered to the factories for mass production, duplication, packaging and shipping. The channel was primed and the companies were waiting with bated breath to purchase the new WordPerfect.

    But that never happened.

    As soon as the company was purchased, Novell ignored WordPerfect (the product) like an ugly stepchild. They wrapped all of their energies and marketing muscle around GroupWise and bundled it with every sale of Novell NetWare. As a result, people were finally able to see the value of 'networked' machines that you allowed employees to collaborate calendars and share intra-office email.

    But it was Novell that killed WordPerfect. There is no one else to blame. Novell killed a cash cow that was handed to them for nearly nothing. In the resulting vacuum, Microsoft Word slowly made inroads that eventually established Word as the word processing standard for the majority of companies around the world.

    If the facts come out, it'll be clear Novell has no one to blame but themselves. And not just for WordPerfect's demise - but for NetWare as well. They've failed to capitalize on so many opportunities it's a wonder they even lasted as long as they did.
    • An interesting piece of alternative history, in the real world the record has this to say:

      "We are pursuing a strategy to keep WordPerfect on the defensive. In effect, this means acting like we are still the "trailer" and explicitly calling them out with aggressive switcher tactics" link [edge-op.org]

      "In an email dated October 3, 199, however, Bill Gates ordered his top executives to retract the documentation of the browsing extensions, but only until Microsoft’s own developers of the Office suite of applications h

  • I loved WP for DOS. The most perfect Word Processor ever. Now every 3 years MS keeps changing Word and it sucks.

If God is perfect, why did He create discontinuous functions?

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