Microsoft Faces Ban on Word

For those that have been following the story for a while there is finally new information.

An appeals court on Tuesday ordered Microsoft to stop selling Microsoft Word 2007 and other Office 2007 products by Jan. 11 because the software infringes on a patent held by a Canadian company. The judge also hit Microsoft with a $290 million fine.

While some may cheer that this opens a small window against Microsoft Office others will jeer because it upholds software patents. For me I am not sure which ‘side’ to fall on. Given the sales figures for Microsoft Office last year I can not help but wonder how much could be saved if people were ‘forced’ through a sales ban to consider alternatives.

Microsoft Office, which includes Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, accounted for more than $3 billion in worldwide sales in Microsoft’s most recent fiscal year and is used by literally millions of businesses and consumers for everyday tasks like word processing and creating spreadsheets and presentations.

Yes, Dr. Evil that is three billion… yes, billion with a ‘B’. For those who are unfamiliar with the alternatives let me suggest; OpenOffice.

Where do you stand on this?

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20 Responses to Microsoft Faces Ban on Word

  1. Jonathan says:

    This part is not a core part of MS WOrd and is not used by normal people. MS has also already started shipping a fix to this to OEM Partners.

    I think the big problem is the patent system itself, not just the problem with whether or not MS was copying things

    • Charles Profitt says:

      When you say they are shipping a fix to OEM partners — are they recalling all the boxes of product on retailers shelves?

  2. Aleksey says:

    I say no double standard. Software patents is more evil than monopoly. In fact, patents make monopolies easier to build. So, as much as I dislike Microsoft, I’m against this ruling.

  3. Dorian says:

    I’m definitely saddened by the use of patents in an anti-competitive way. As for the $3B, while I’m no fan of Microsoft, if they can sell Office, people are willing to buy it and not be forced to buy it; then I see no harm. I am a heavy user of OpenOffice. And I think OOo can compete with the likes of Microsoft on merit and without resorting to using the courts. Finally, those who actually seek alternatives will find them. Most people just aren’t seeking.

    • Charles Profitt says:

      Just to be clear OpenOffice did not do anything in court to Microsoft; i4i is the company in question. The fact that this issue is in the courts and hence the news may cause some folks to at least see if there is an alternative though.

  4. Amy says:

    Good afternoon
    I have used OpenOffice.org for nearly 5 years now and have not missed a beat in terms of productivity or ability to communicate — times when folks can’t open or the margins move — I send the document as a PDF.

    Open Office is a wonderful product and since I believe that human knowledge belongs to mankind, I use it with pride.

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  6. John says:

    I am very curious what this implies for OO.org. They use XML in their .odt file (which are just zips). I also wonder what precedent has been set here. I’m not optimistic enough to think this was a stoke towards Freedom and Goodness.

    • Mackenzie says:

      As mentioned on Engadget, it is not simply the use of XML that is patented, it is a *specific* algorithm for reading/writing XML, and OpenOffice.org uses a different algorithm.

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  8. Andrew Zajac says:

    Microsoft certainly has its share of lobbyists. Until now, software patents have mostly helped Microsoft maintain their monopoly and they have used their influence to keep the software patent status quo when it has been challenged in courts or in politics.

    But this is changing.

    I’m in favor of this ruling since it and others that will follow will eventually cause Microsoft to lobby *against* software patents.

    Anyway, law suits only go where there is big money. Microsoft and other proprietary software companies are more of a target than FLOSS.

    Now *that* should be a potent argument (or FUD campaign) against proprietary software. “Don’t rely on proprietary software, the rug can be pulled from under you feet at any time because of software patents!”

  9. arijit says:

    I don’t need msoffice package full with unused features that I don’t require. So I stick to Open office in my Linux as well as Window environment.

  10. Andy says:

    I personally tend to favour SSuite Office’s free office suites. Their software also don’t need to run on Java or .NET, like so many open source office suites, so it makes their applications very small and efficient.

    http://www.ssuitesoft.com

    • Charles Profitt says:

      Well they look to be ‘free’ as in no cost, but not really Free. From the screen shots it does not appear to stand up to OpenOffice and it also is not cross-platform.

  11. jeffp says:

    Not a big fan of software patents. But it’s ironic that Microsoft is crying foul and whining about being a victim, seeing as how the company has used its own patents as very large bludgeons in patent cases in the recent past.

    I’ll continue to use OpenOffice.org and AbiWord, thank you very much.

  12. Aside from the (slim?) possibility that Microsoft may start taking a different position on patents, I say this news is nothing to cheer about. Sure, it’s great to cackle that they’re getting a taste of their own medicine, but the current state of software patents is bad and this ruling is symptomatic of that.

  13. LJS says:

    So, what about all the people worldwide who purchased MS office and are using it for their company or home computer? It was available in the stores and they bought it. So, I feel that MS should reimburse every single person who brings their MS office software that they can no longer use for a refund so that they can purchase software that can be used. Why should the consumer eat their purchase and having nothing to show for the money they spent to buy software that was available for purchase? What’s going to be done about this?

    • Charles Profitt says:

      From my understanding it was a ban on sales… so I am not sure there is an impact to users who already own the software.

  14. LJS says:

    Oh, that would make sense. It’s so unclear by the article as to what is actually going on. So many people worldwide use Microsoft Office and word, etc that there would be serious problems if the software was suddenly just unusable. I hope someone clarifies what exactly is going to happen. News agenies like to report the news, but they don’t always make things clear.

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