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The Courts Microsoft Software Windows

Novell's WordPerfect Antitrust Suit Ends In Mistrial 98

Posted by timothy
from the lots-of-lawyers-love-wordperfect dept.
According to a Bloomberg News article carried by Business Week, "Jurors said today they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict in Novell Inc.’s antitrust trial against Microsoft Corp. over the WordPerfect computer program. A mistrial was declared by the judge presiding over the case in federal court in Salt Lake City ... Novell sought as much as $1.3 billion in damages over allegations that Microsoft, while developing the Windows 95 operating system in 1994, blocked an element of the software to thwart Novell’s WordPerfect and Quattro Pro programs."
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Novell's WordPerfect Antitrust Suit Ends In Mistrial

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  • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Friday December 16, 2011 @09:23PM (#38405946) Homepage Journal

    Clippy: I see you are trying to reach a verdict.

  • Anybody else read this as "... Suit Ends in Mistral?" I had some crazy idea about the issue somehow being resolved by this particular font.

  • Little late... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Friday December 16, 2011 @09:38PM (#38406020)
    Excellent, we got a non-verdict almost 18 years after the events subject to the trial, during which time Microsoft, Apple, and most of the other serial abusers of anti-trust and/or patent law have only maintained or even increased their presence in the market.

    I'm satisfied with our justice system. Everything looks totally cool. Everyone else happy?
    • by Genda (560240)

      Actually I'm a little surprised... With the M$ million man legal team, I figured litigation like this wouldn't actually reach resolution until the heat death of the universe... Oh yeah, silly me, it hasn't resolved yet has it?... go on everybody,scoot, nothing here to see!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by yog (19073) *

      And yet, competitors like OpenOffice have been stealing market share from MS Office. By some accounts, OOo now holds over 20% of desktops. Then there's the internet apps like Google Documents, which are steadily increasing in user numbers. Microsoft's response to Google Apps, "Office 365", is a subscription-based product that is not even available without paying a fee. Undoubtedly it's getting some attention in corporate circles, where they like to pay for such things, but no one else cares.

      Apple's stea

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        a subscription-based product that is not even available without paying a fee

        A *fee*?!? GASP!

        1.Collect Underpants
        2. ???
        3.Profit

      • Re:Little late... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lisias (447563) on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:18PM (#38406250) Homepage Journal

        Basically this Wordperfect lawsuit is a bit dated and irrelevant today. I'm surprised it wasn't thrown out long ago.

        Dated, yes. Irrelevant, not.

        The message, if the USA Legal System manages to delivery it, will be : "We will catch you, no matter how much time it takes."

        • by slamb (119285) *

          The message, if the USA Legal System manages to delivery it, will be : "We will catch you, no matter how much time it takes."

          We will catch you and then do what?

          Even if IBM gets amount they are seeking, $1.3B is only 0.60% of MSFT's market cap today. Microsoft's business has been climbing the exponential-like part of the logistic curve for 17 years since this happened; their market cap grew from $23.06B on 1 Jan 1994 [wolframalpha.com] to $216.78B now. Dollar figures that were meaningful then are just not meaningful now.

      • Re:Little late... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:19PM (#38406266)

        People are switching to handheld devices running mainly iOS or Android. In a few years, the average college student may not be using either Windows or MacOS, but instead they will be mainly familiar with these phone/tablet systems.

        Do you actually work in the real world? I work in software product management - I create complex documents, flowcharts and work on spreadsheets. I collaborate on UI wireframes. My colleagues in accounting run sophisticated apps. I have friends who are lawyers, others who are structural engineers... Many of us work across two 22" monitors...

        How exactly do any of us do this work on tablets or phones? Microsoft OWNS those environments, hands down - From the desktops, to the servers...

        The real world isn't twitter updates from your iDevice.

        • by Goaway (82658)

          You have some funny ideas about what the average college student does.

          • by jd (1658)

            Depends on the university. Where I went, people ran their own 386BSD (and Linux, once it existed) installs, running 16-player games of Netrek or XTank over the campus network using X11R4 on large (for the time) monitors, or were playing DOSish games like Wing Commander using the LAPC1 for sound. Not cheap setups and not something phones or tablets could replicate today by any stretch.

            • by pmontra (738736)
              I wanted to mod you up but I prefer to reply and share the nostalgia for those never ending Netrek and XTank games. I even managed to graduate.
              Actually I think my dual core phone has much more CPU than those computers we were using back in the early 90's. With the right software stack it would be a good server. Nevertheless it seems that somebody managed to run Ubuntu on it but I don't feel like trying.
              A phone screen is too tiny for Netrek but a tablet should be fine. Tapping to direct the ships instead o
          • by Toonol (1057698)
            You have some funny ideas about what the average college student does.

            Right. They twitter and check facebook. They wouldn't ever need to write papers or crunch numbers. That's for working stiffs.
        • cook your food, sell you your clothes, and work in the factories that make those monitors, are all using phones, not fancy computers.

          and they out number you 99:1.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ulricr (2486278)
            Factory workers with 80$ data plans and smartphones? The majority of people have older pcs, a subset of those have iPods that they fill from music on the pc. But they are not browsing the web on a smartphone with an 80$ data plans. Or buying 700$ ipads. The entry point for pcs is much lower and that where most people in the world are.
            • by Gordonjcp (186804)

              Paying for a "data plan"? Hahaha. Next you'll be telling me you pay for text messages and you pay to receive calls...

          • by corbettw (214229) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `wttebroc'> on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:39PM (#38406702) Journal

            I dare anyone to read that post and not read it in Tyler Durden's voice.

          • by jd (1658)

            Your average factory worker is lucky if the boss obeys the law and pays minimum wage. The only phones they are likely to see are the recycled ones from 10 years back. They may outnumber the geeks 99:1 but they're not reading eBooks, wordprocessing or surfing YouTube on those phones. If the screen even has graphics.

          • by Toonol (1057698)
            Bull. You imagine what they're like, and you're wrong. Be less insulated.
        • by Gr8Apes (679165)

          ... I have friends who are lawyers, others who are structural engineers... Many of us work across two 22" monitors... Microsoft OWNS those environments, hands down - From the desktops, to the servers...

          Oh my - 2 22" monitors. Maybe you should have bought just one 27+" monitor (or better yet, 2!!!) How else will you work?

          Hint: Windows doesn't own that environment, hands down, up, or sideways. Not only that, if your talking servers, you're talking an ever shrinking slice of the pie for the MS world.

          I too have friends in all the stated worlds, and more. Truly sophisticated accounting apps don't run on windows anyting. Engineers (well, structural could be civil, in which case.... duhhh) would be much better

          • by jd (1658)

            Whether Windows, Linux or BSD, I can tell you now that no application of any serious weight will run on a phone, tablet, netbook, PDA or abacus. If it hasn't serious crunching power, serious memory and something with more juice than the overweight liquorice stick manufacturers claim is a battery and not an incendiary device, it's simply not going to run anything remotely like the applications real people use for real work.

            And, yes, most real people use a *nix. Imaginary people use Windows, complex people us

        • How exactly do any of us do this work on tablets or phones? Microsoft OWNS those environments, hands down - From the desktops, to the servers...

          Yes, real office work still needs a keyboard and monitor, and that's usually some sort of Windows OS on a desktop or laptop, but did you really mean to include servers in the Microsoft ownership? I work in the real world too, and Microsoft Server is disappearing from my part of it. Most of our server applications could run on it, but are also supported for other operating systems with simpler (and cheaper) licensing terms.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Yup - if today's pundits were alive in 1990 they'd be talking about how college students talk on the phone and hang out at the lunch table - they have no familiarity with things like interoffice mail, documents, and email. Well, duh - they're college students, and the goals of a college student are a bit different from the goals of a business.

          The only thing that gives the pundits traction today is that managers today do most of the same things as college students (indeed they may never have done much else

      • And yet, competitors like OpenOffice have been stealing market share from MS Office. By some accounts, OOo now holds over 20% of desktops. Then there's the internet apps like Google Documents, which are steadily increasing in user numbers.

        Which just goes to show, the path to success is through innovation, not litigation (Yes Apple I'm looking at you)

        Microsoft's response to Google Apps, "Office 365", is a subscription-based product that is not even available without paying a fee. Undoubtedly it's getting some attention in corporate circles, where they like to pay for such things, but no one else cares.

        You say that as if the corporate market is some little two bit operation in the far corner of the room. The consumer market maybe a gold mine for Apple right now, but it is a fickle space to operate in. In 10 years most corporates will still run Windows/Office/Exchange/SQL, can you say the same about the your latest smartphone?

        Apple's steadily becoming more common on the desktop, and they make very highly rated laptops, tablets, and phones. Yet, they're not a monopoly in any of these markets, and Android is overtaking the iPhone.

        As above. If I had enough money to buy shares I'd be choosing MS over

        • by Anonymous Coward

          the desktop still wins, and MS has 80%+ market share in that space.

          Supporting your post, throwing everything against Windows including iOS, Windows still has 86% [netmarketshare.com] market share. It's slowly gone down over the last year but that's probably more do to people adding other operating systems more than people replacing Windows with another OS.

          I like Linux and have 4 running copies at home, but I still have 5 copies of Windows between dual boots and VMs on multiple machines. At this moment I have 4 machines running at home split 2 Linux (currently posting with one plus a server

        • by hawk (1151)

          > In 10 years most corporates will still run
          >Windows/Office/Exchange/SQL, can you say the same
          >about the your latest smartphone?

          They *may* be using that particular software (which is currently losing ground,' or they may be using another. They *will* be using the software on hardware. Microsoft is in one of those markets, and apple in the other.

          >Apple's steadily becoming more common on the desktop,
          >and they make very highly rated laptops, tablets, and
          >phones. Yet, they're not a monopoly i

      • I really don't see how Microsoft is more of a monopoly today than in the '90s. It's gradually becoming irrelevant

        There are 1.25 Billion Windows machines [businessinsider.com]. It will take a while before Microsoft is irrelevant.

      • Re:Little late... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:03PM (#38406520) Journal

        This is rather like saying "He violated a contract a decade ago, but because the wronged party found other business, pursuit of the initial violation is pointless."

        Just because events have moved long past this period, so far as I'm concerned, if Microsoft deliberately used its monopoly to damage a competitor, it should be made to pay for it.

      • Microsoft's response to Google Apps, "Office 365", is a subscription-based product that is not even available without paying a fee.

        That's because Office 365 is specifically a response to Google's paid apps. If you want basic online office document editing for free, it comes with SkyDrive.

      • by jd (1658)

        Star Office (the original Open Office) came out for the Zilog Z80, Amstrad CPC and the Commodore 64. Microsoft Office didn't even exist then. Microsoft itself barely existed back then. That means that the market share isn't UP to 20%, it's DOWN to 20%.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          both microsoft word (1983) and multiplan (excel's predecessor, 1982) predate the actual founding of the company that started staroffice (stardivision, 1984; nine years after microsoft); and it was not staroffice back then, just starwriter.

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        By some accounts, OOo now holds over 20% of desktops.

        That's so contrary to my experience I have to ask where you got that. In the US, I'd be shocked if OO was on even 1% of desktops. I like OO, have it on all my machines, but it's not making significant inroads against Office. Google apps isn't, really, either, but at least it's a potential threat that MS was forced to respond to.

        And I disagree with you about the future of operating systems. You're not going to write papers and run spreadsheets
  • I just read TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoronGames (632186) <cam.henlin@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:12PM (#38406210) Journal
    and it sounds like one guy held up the whole thing. It was an 11-1 vote AGAINST Microsoft. Sounds like we spotted a fanboy!
    • Re:I just read TFA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:30PM (#38406330)

      and it sounds like one guy held up the whole thing. It was an 11-1 vote AGAINST Microsoft. Sounds like we spotted a fanboy!

      Or someone who's about to mysteriously come into a lot of money.

      • Or someone who's about to mysteriously come into a lot of money.

        "Bribery!" is the geek's shout-out to any legal decision he doesn't like.

        If it is not the judge who was bribed, it was the jury. If it was not the judge or the jury, it was the lawyers. If it was not the lawyers. it was the lawmakers.

        Not that the juror can't shout back that "I was your hero --- the nullifier --- with the strength and will to hold out against a verdict I thought was morally wrong! "

        "Until it came time to make a decision, and my decision went against you."

        "Well, to hell with that, it

        • Or someone who's about to mysteriously come into a lot of money.

          "Bribery!" is the geek's shout-out to any legal decision he doesn't like.

          If it is not the judge who was bribed, it was the jury. If it was not the judge or the jury, it was the lawyers. If it was not the lawyers. it was the lawmakers.

          First of all let me make it clear. I don't give a rats ass about this case! I was never a fan of WordPerfect and this case is so old it's ridiculous. Novell will never regain its place in the word processing market. Frankly I think it's disgusting that this case hasn't been concluded long ago.

          "Bribery!" is not only "the geek's shout-out". It's used by all manner of people in the world. Do you know why? Because it's so fucking common! Hell the US government has practically legalized it and now calls it a ca

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by stephanruby (542433)

      Either that, or he was just the type of person who wanted to disagree with everybody in the room.

      So for all we know, he could just be a linux desktop user.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by phantomfive (622387)

        Either that, or he was just the type of person who wanted to disagree with everybody in the room.

        In my (admittedly limited) experience, those kinds of people are the first to fold, the least-likely to stick to their opinion. At first they are upset, outraged at something, but jury deliberation can last a long time. They have no firm principles, so they just want to get out, and are happy to change their opinion if they can go home sooner.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ulricr (2486278)
      I am baffled by this. Removing shell namespace extension during beta is absolutely not an obstacle to a third party shipping a word processor or a data base. The standard Open File dialog was just fine and everyone else used it - and still use it. There is no equivalent on any other OS. It's totally irrelevant to why WordPerfect lost the market and they have proof that the database was late anyway and would not have shipped until the year after. I cannot understand what the other 11 juries saw there tha
      • Re:I just read TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gr8Apes (679165) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @01:16AM (#38406966)

        you have absolutely no idea what MS did.

        However, to MS's defense, WordPerfect never really go the GUI until MS was long out of the gate. However, MS used an entire series of underhanded tricks at the time to improve their products by using secret unpublished APIs that no one else knew about.

        Should they lose this case? Yes. Should they be punished? Yes? Is 1.3B too much? NO!

        Tying products together the way MS did, and utilizing proprietary data on what essentially was, at the time, a near monopolistic eco-system should be punished. Personally 1.3B might be too low. Perhaps increasing it by an order of magnitude or 2 just for the delays I'm sure MS put in would put a stop to it. Or, better yet, grant the 1.3B and then increase it by 10% for each year MS delayed judgement,

        Gee - their purse might get hurt? It's quite possible that all of it was ill gotten gains and therefore subject to forfeiture.

        • by ulricr (2486278)
          The trial is about the removal of the namespace extension. What else do you think it is about? The juries in the trial are generally confused about what the trial is about and try to make a point the way you are doing here instead of looking at the facts. Microsoft ALREADY had a separate trial for monopoly and undocumented Apis. This isn't that trial. Novel needs to show damage
        • by westlake (615356)

          However, to MS's defense, WordPerfect never really go the GUI until MS was long out of the gate. However, MS used an entire series of underhanded tricks at the time to improve their products by using secret unpublished APIs that no one else knew about.

          WordPerfect was a DOS era character based word processor that was ported to every OS and platform known to man, each with its own fiefdom within the company.

          It struggled with the transition to a GUI world on both Windows and the Mac.

          It struggled internally with the success of both Windows and the Mac --- at one point it was supporting 30 flavors of UNIX alone.

          It struggled with the transition from a stand-alone word processor to the integrated office suite.

          The "secret unpublished API" probably did less d

          • by Gr8Apes (679165)

            the unpublished APIs included printing, IIRC. Something about more detailed formatting being available, IIRC.

            But, I agree WP had all sorts of other issues that just about took them out of the running, MS didn't even need to use unpublished APIs to have ensured it. But by doing so, they opened themselves up to these types of lawsuits.

    • by ediron2 (246908)

      Normally, I'd agree with you. In a room of a dozen nerds, that'd be the fanboi. But in a room with 12 generic citizens, that standout could be the one nerd in the room.

      In other words, maybe the first 11 jurors are like half the nitwits, er *committee* hearing SOPA in congress today -- zzzzzz-zzzzzzz 'bunch of tubes' zzzzzz-zzzzz 'intarwebz are for porn' zzzzz-zzzzz 'if the glove doesn't fit' zzzz-zzzzz. Meanwhile, one of our fellow slashdotters got jury duty and *understood* things, and came to a complet

  • Wow... Back then I was doing tech support in my first IT gig. It was a summer job while I was in College. I was doing tech support for a reseller that serviced small to mid-sized businesses. One of our clients had purchased Windows 95 PCs, an HP Laserjet 4si, and WordPerfect for Windows 3.11. Due to a bug between Windows and WordPerfect, the client was completely unable to print. There was no fix -- WordPerfect's printing engine was completely incompatible with Windows 95. I was completely unable to
    • by symbolset (646467) * on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:10PM (#38406546) Journal

      Believe it or not WordPerfect's problems with printing persisted at least until the last time I had to deal with it, which was WordPerfect Office X4 in XP about two years ago. I did get it to work, but frankly it was high IT voodoo - not the sort of thing in the range of your average geek. It takes a pretty committed customer to even ask for such a thing. Funny story: it had worked fine for over a year, but then a Windows Update came along that broke printing.

      Either the WordPerfect programming team can make an awesome word processor capable of some really brilliant things - but are yet unable to figure out how printing works, or that Windows team really holds a grudge and continues to reverse engineer WP to break printing and other things. Up to the time I was dealing with the problem I would have gone with the latter. Now, not so much.

      WordPerfect was bought by Corel, and in 2010 Corel was bought by "Vector Capital" - an investment group well shielded from discovery of who is actually behind it. If I were to venture an opinion about this, many here would be fitting me for a tinfoil hat. Let's just say my estimation of the chances of a commitment to renovation of WordPerfect to serve the obvious demand for the product and create a resurgence of it is effectively nil. WordPerfect is in my opinion really and truly dead.

      I honestly believe that if WordPerfect were fixed and released it would generate a lot of sales and give a good return on investment. The people who like it really do like it. But I also believe that ain't gonna happen.

      We saw this happen with OpenOffice too. It couldn't fall into worse hands than Oracle. But OpenOffice was open source, so forking was possible and there's hope LibreOffice will be one of the office software contenders in the future. WordPerfect doesn't have that open source feature. It can be killed, and I believe it has been.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The original versions of WordPerfect for Windows (WPfW) had their own print engine that did not use the Windows code. The reason for this (if I remember correctly, it was a long time ago), was the DOS versoins of WP had support for a huge number of printers, mostly created by WordPerfect Corp. itself. When Windows was released the printer support was less complete than WP had, and less consistent. As a result WPfW was written to support the print driver technology of WP to ensure that when it shipped WPfW s

      • WordPerfect doesn't have that open source feature. It can be killed, and I believe it has been.

        I have little doubt that, had WordPerfect been open source, it would have become the word processor of choice on platforms where MS Office wasn't available. It still had a lot of mind share in the mid to late 1990s, when Linux was gaining steam. I don't know how profitable the WordPerfect business has been since then, but Novell/Corel might have been better off if they had released it as open source at the time.

  • by mysidia (191772) * on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:47PM (#38406734)

    When Microsoft's on trial, a guilty verdict has to be unanmous?

    Normally in a Civil trial unanimity is not required.

    • by drawfour (791912)
      You are incorrect. Jury trials (including civil) almost always require unanimous decisions. Some jurisdictions allow for a verdict to be returned even if one, two, or three jurrors dissent. If both sides agree, then the requirement for unanimous verdict can be loosened, but in this case, Microsoft did not agree.

      For more reading, see Wikipedia's article on jury trials [wikipedia.org], in the sections labeled "Civil trial procedure". Also, note that from the original article, "During jury deliberations, Motz [the judge
  • by Jeff1946 (944062) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @12:26AM (#38406850) Journal

    LIke most folks in the MSDOS world we used word perfect. When we went to Windows 3.1, obviously before 95, we tried various WYSIWYG word processors. Word worked ok, AMIPRO was fine (and my favorite) and WP for windows was just awful. Word had the advantage of being developed for the MAC which gave MS a significant headstart. I would assume the same for excel. The seamless tie-in of word, excel and powerpoint made if difficult for anyone else to compete. The better product won.

    As an aside I believe word perfect for dos cost several hundred dollars and lotus 123 was $495. Now this buys you the office suite.

  • 20 years ago.

    I am so glad to see *nix become a standard.

    Bring on the voice activated TVs...

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