Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Microsoft Novell The Courts

Court Clears Novell To Sue Microsoft Over WordPerfect 165

An anonymous reader writes "15 years after Novell sold the software to Corel, a court has given Novell the right to sue Microsoft over WordPerfect, which had a 50 percent market share in the early '90s."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Court Clears Novell To Sue Microsoft Over WordPerfect

Comments Filter:
  • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @02:05PM (#36037868)
    True words! I can't tell you how many times I have fixed the screwed up formatting of a Word document by saving the stupid thing as ASCII text and starting the whole formatting process over. Even knowing how to find hidden section breaks etc. doesn't always help. Word formatting is just evil.
  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 05, 2011 @03:47PM (#36039800)

    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.

  • 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.

  • Almost Perfect (Score:3, Interesting)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @04:10PM (#36040234)

    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.


    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 []

    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.

  • I Was There (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dugn ( 890551 ) on Thursday May 05, 2011 @07:17PM (#36042536)
    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.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard