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Company also says that the ban will cause it "irreparable" harm

I4i's victory in its patent infringement case against Microsoft was a slap in the face for the Redmond juggernaut.  Not only did a judge order $290M USD in damages be awarded to i4i for Microsoft's violation of its XML patents, but it also ordered Microsoft to stop selling Word, in its current form, until a final verdict is reached.  Word currently uses the Office Open XML (OOXML) format, which infringes on i4i's patent.

As the days roll by and Microsoft's 60-day compliance windows closes, the company is pleading with courts to lift the injunction.  It says that if the injunction is not lifted it will likely be forced to stop selling Microsoft Office for several months. 

Writes Microsoft's defense team, "Microsoft and its distributors face the imminent possibility of a massive disruption in their sales. If left undisturbed, the district court’s injunction will inflict irreparable harm on Microsoft by potentially keeping the centerpiece of its product line out of the market for months. The injunction would block not only the distribution of Word, but also of the entire Office suite, which contains Word and other popular programs."

Some are puzzled, though, as to why Microsoft would stop selling Office, rather than simply changes it file format and distinguishing between the current and XML-less editions.  States Barry Negrin, a partner with the New York firm Pryor Cashman LLP who has practiced patent and trademark law for 17 years, "All Microsoft has to do is disable the custom XML feature, which should be pretty easy to do, then give that a different SKU number from what’s been sold so it’s easy to distinguish the two versions."

In the unlikely event that Microsoft does indeed carry through on its claim to stop selling Office, it could prove a headache for consumers and businesses, who rely on the software's functionality.  However, light-weight alternatives such as Open Office 3 (which nears Office 2007 in functionality) and Google Docs could get a brief boost if Microsoft Office disappeared for several months -- a prospect that has some excited.

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RE: Interesting...
By ZachDontScare on 8/20/2009 1:41:31 PM , Rating: 0
...having worked in the software industry for about 17 years, let me just call BS on this one.

And I'm calling BS on your calling it BS. Do you work in the commercial software industry? I do - and MrBlastman is dead on accurate with his assessment. Even the smallest change to commercial software fires off a long testing & release process. Will it take a long time to actually modify the code? Probably not. But once its modifed, they have to then go through the entire testing process again, not to mention the DVD fabrication & Packaging process. This is not some inhouse VB app slapped together for use by co-workers on a controlled network that you can tweak over lunch.

The ironic thing is that they're only in trouble over this patent because everyone was screaming for them to use an 'open' standard like XML. Now they have their excuse not to use it.

RE: Interesting...
By Motley on 8/20/2009 2:16:30 PM , Rating: 4
I would also like to add in that they would also likely have to change the internal product code so that patches to the original version of office don't get applied.

Of course that also means that every add-on and 3rd party add-on has to be retested to make sure they will continue to work in 2007.1 as well. Those that call office through DOM, or .NET interop libraries will need to be retested and possibly patched as well.

RE: Interesting...
By Motoman on 8/20/2009 2:32:56 PM , Rating: 3
And I'm calling BS on your calling it BS. Do you work in the commercial software industry? I do - and MrBlastman is dead on accurate with his assessment.

Yup, commercial. And again, I agree with the OP in general terms. However, if you look at what I'm suggesting, you'll see it's a pretty trivial thing.

It seems to me that all MS needs to do is to remove the offending XML-format option from the file dialogs - in particular, the Open and Save As dialogs. Just remove that option from the drop-down. That makes it impossible for anyone to use the offending functionality.

Realistically, they *should* even have the format translation functionality in discrete subroutines too - such that they could pull the whole thing with little to no effort.

And I'm not saying push it out the door with no QA at all. What I'm saying is that for something this small, and unequivocal (no one can even get to the function if you take away the GUI option to get there), the risk is exceedingly small. QA it in a week. New image for production is then ready, start using it on new disks. Issue a new SKU number.

If they're not completely lost, they've already done this anyway.

The point being that this is a relatively special case in terms of the change needed and the risk involved. Doesn't look to me like something that needs full regression testing.

RE: Interesting...
By Boze on 8/21/2009 6:51:15 PM , Rating: 2
The point being that this is a relatively special case in terms of the change needed and the risk involved. Doesn't look to me like something that needs full regression testing.

That's what technical, logical people tend to think. Until something goes horribly awry. Then the old adage of the medical professions becomes the order of the day - "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

RE: Interesting...
By Smilin on 8/25/2009 5:55:23 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, you're clueless.

I'm not sure what development you do but I seriously doubt it's on the same scale as what Microsoft does.

Lets say for argument sake that they leave all the code in and simply remove the option for the menu. Easy right? Wrong.. Now you have to go and relocalize the UI for 37 different languages.

RE: Interesting...
By Xavier434 on 8/20/2009 2:34:42 PM , Rating: 1
...but will that process actually cost MS more than the loss in sales? That is really the only question at hand. No one is arguing that the process that MS has to go through to make the change doesn't cost much money.

RE: Interesting...
By Fritzr on 8/21/2009 5:56:42 AM , Rating: 4
They could have adopted an existing open standard. Instead they chose to adopt an existing proprietary standard and have it declared an open standard used only by Microsoft.

All they had to do was use the Open Office XML format or any other XML formats declared open and free of licensing fees

RE: Interesting...
By HotFoot on 8/21/2009 7:28:03 AM , Rating: 2
I guess MS is just lucky this is a Patent violation and not being covered by copyright and prosecuted by the RIAA... the fine would have been in the Billions or more, surely.

RE: Interesting...
By Smilin on 8/25/2009 6:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
Oh that's right. The Open Office XML format that is utterly incapable of storing spreadsheet formulas without...wait for it...proprietary extensions.

Open Office XML sucks. We'll see what 1.3 brings though.

RE: Interesting...
By Smilin on 8/25/2009 6:32:08 PM , Rating: 2
Forget everything I just said. All this office open openness opening xml confuses me.

I mixed up the people's front of judea with the people's judean front.

RE: Interesting...
By VaultDweller on 8/21/2009 7:53:24 AM , Rating: 4
I have a question for everyone that's remarking that making code changes to a commercial software like Office is such a monumental undertaking... do you realize that Microsoft issues patches and updates (that make code changes to Office!) pretty much every single month?

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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