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back to article Zombie Microsoft antitrust case shuffles to retrial

Novell's reanimated antitrust case against Microsoft's Word is reported to have hit "hopeless" deadlock, with Novell pushing for a fresh trial. A jury in Salt Lake City hearing the $1bn case can't make up its mind whether Microsoft broke the law, according to The Wall St Journal. According to the WSJ, after a brief examination …

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Silver badge

All 12 jurors found Microsoft guilty of anticompetitive behaviour

11/12 decided Novell was damaged by that anticompetitive behaviour. A big part of the delay in this case was that action was stayed pending Microsoft being found guilty in other anti-trust cases. Judge Motz loves this case. After being overruled on appeal, he started commuting to a different district so he could continue to preside over it. Microsoft made a lot of noise along the lines of Novell have shown no evidence that they complained at the time. You can read that evidence on groklaw, but Judge Motz ruled that the jury was not allowed to see it.

This report is better than some. There are reports that Judge Motz dismissed the case when in fact he dismissed the Jury.

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Anonymous Coward

Jury dismissed "with prejudice"

I'll bet that the judge was mighty glad to dismiss this jury because, from all reports, the jury didn't give him the verdict that he seemed so determined to get.

Microsoft have filed a request for the judge to dismiss the case anyway, rather than having a retrial. I wonder just how much damage to his reputation he's prepared to risk. He's done it once already, will he have to nerve to try it again?

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Bronze badge
Childcatcher

For all his good works around the world...

Mr. Gates just can't stop telling porkie-pies can he?

I'm glad that Microsoft has been a little better behaved in recent years, but hearing Billy Boy denying that Microsoft could even think of dicking about with the idea of fairness brings back all those nasty feelings.

Heck, I even read Gatesy-Watesey being described somewhere recently as an 'innovator'.

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Anonymous Coward

Novell objected to MS dropping features from Win95 without warning

Why should we be surprised by Gates's evidence - it's exactly in line with what we'd expect of Microsoft.

First he says that the dropped code from Windows was unimportant and not something he was bothered about. And the reason for dropping the code at the last minute? It caused "instability" in Windows.

Yup, that's what we expect of Gates - unstable code in Windows isn't something that seems to bother him.

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Silver badge
Facepalm

Oh God

The system needs to change. I don't see how it can keep working if juries are expected to make a call on things that happened FIFTEEN years ago.

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Unhappy

so...

If I killed someone 15 years ago and the police just caught me, I get to go free?

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Anonymous Coward

Juries should decide on the evidence presented

Juries are supposed to base their verdict on the evidence presented to them in court - it shouldn't matter whether the alleged actions took place fifteen years or fifteen days ago! Of course, the witnesses might have a problem..........

From my recollection of the reports on groklaw about this case, the reason for the lengthy delay in the trial (the proceedings against Microsoft by the US DoJ for anti-trust practices) was never revealed to the jury. Now, I wonder why Microsoft wouldn't want that?

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Yes. It might make the police work that bit harder inthe first instance.

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WTF?

wait a sec...

Isn't Novell now owned by Attachmate, which itself is partially owned by Microsoft?!

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Anonymous Coward

Source?

Do you have a reliable source for that?

It doesn't count if a man in the pub told you! Nor does, "Well, everybody knows it's true, right?"

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Microsoft&Attachmate et al

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/whats-microsofts-role-in-the-novell-attachmate-deal/8041

this seems to referance the subject.

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Anonymous Coward

CPTN != Attachmate

Novell attempted to flog off 882 patents to CPTN Partners which was a consortium of Microsoft, Apple Inc., Oracle and EMC Corporation.

Ze Germans and then the US Government subsequently heavily neutered the deal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CPTN_Holdings

There is still nothing to suggest that Microsoft owns any part of Attachmate.

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Gold badge

Wordperfect vs. Word

I remember doing a comparison of Wordperfect vs. Word once. I seem to remember liking the fact that in Word, bold text looked bold on the screen, and underlined had an underline. Coming from texed and troff I thought that this was quite helpful.

However I think Wordperfect showed the same text as magenta with an inverse green outline or somthing similar - wtf??

For me Wordperfect was dead at that point. However some of my recent struggles with Word see me wanting troff again...

As for this trial, WTF!! The legal system always seems to surprise me; just when you think you have the lowest possible opinion of it, bang it gets worse!

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Silver badge

You're thinking of DOS versions, maybe?

This litigation concerns the allegation that Microsoft acted in such a way as to reserve the Windows word processor market for itself — both Word and WordPerfect for Windows were WYSIWYG applications from day one.

WordPerfect for DOS always used a bunch of colour cues to communicate formatting but I think it arrived at that compromise by being a bit of a platform slut and compensated for it by having the best printer support in the business. Word turned up quite a bit later and DOS was the only text-mode OS it supported, meaning they could tie themselves much more closely to the hardware.

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Silver badge
Windows

@ThomH

Actually, there was a Microsoft Word for DOS, as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Word#Origins_and_growth:_1981_to_1995

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Anonymous Coward

What?

"It was a ground-breaking piece of work".

No it wasn't.

Like ALL of MS's 'innovations' (except the favicon) it was either bought or copied.

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Anonymous Coward

And the favicon has to rank as the most retarded implementation of an already stupid idea in the history of computing. A totally unnecessary piece of visual fluff that is so half-baked in it's implementation (spam the site with a GET /favicon.ico to check if one exists), that even a completely green intern should have gone "No, that's stupid. If you want an icon for a page, just chuck the url to it as a piece of metadata in the <head>....". How many gigabytes of bandwidth are wasted daily on GET /favicon.ico and it's 404 response? DIE IN FLAMES.

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Just because they bought the tech in originally doesn't mean they have not massively innovated thereafter. If you think every major software company invents, you're mistaken, most things are bought or acquired through M&A activity and then rebranded. People should wake up to real world business.

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Silver badge

Truth and Lies

Word by 1992 had trashed Wordperfect, because actually Word was one of the best Programmes MS ever did (Excel was the other). Ironically first done for Apple Mac and Ported for Windows.

So Wordperfect was doomed anyway.

But MS *DID* do dirty tricks with MS Office and Win95. They even created pointless APIs on Win95 so the largely 16 bit Office 95 wouldn't run on Win3.1, Win3.11, WFWG3.11. The Win32s on Win3.11 to allow NT programs didn't allow Office 95 to run. MS had to release NT3.51 for free to NT3.5 32 bit users so they could buy Office 95.

Did MS put stuff in Win95 to stop Win3.x programs running? Not so much. I think virtually all of my Win3.1 SW runs on Win95 including Adobe Première Video Editing and VCD/MPEG1 capture/playback hardware.

Did MS do lots of evil nasty anti-competitive stuff relating to Windows 95? Probably yes.

Did MS do anything to stop Wordperfect running on Win95? Probably not. The last "good" Wordperfect was on DOS and the DOS version of MS Word was starting to look better.

If you were cost conscious on DOS probably the Wordstar Clone "Newstar/Newword" was best as "real" Wordstar had got too bloated. The Cheap simple Wordstar clone also had a brief resurgence on CP/M on the PCW8256, PCW8512 and PCW9512.

In the end Wordperfect failed because they where YEARS too slow in doing a sensible Windows version.

I have Word 2.0a (with Manuals) and it's better than any Wordperfect or Wordstar ever was. I think I have about 10 licenses still, and it's trivial to run on ARM. Vista, XP, Win7, OS X by running Dosbox emulator and loading a copy of Win3.1 (in about 15 seconds on a 10 year old XP machine).

The last version of office for win3.1 was Office 4.3 Office 95 wasn't a huge step forward, nor was it even a real 100% 32 bit Windows program.

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Anonymous Coward

Did MS do anything to stop Wordperfect running on Win95?

"Did MS do anything to stop Wordperfect running on Win95? Probably not."

If you look at the evidence, I think you'll find that eleven out of twelve jurors disagree with you!

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Silver badge
Linux

Been there, did that.

...and oddly enough I found neither word nor excel particularly impressive when compared to it's rivals. This persistent myth that the competitors were "just crap" is nonsense. It's something made up to cover the real reason for the success of Microsoft userland apps (which was mostly a strange pro-monpoly attitude prevalent in corprorate America at the time).

Word 2 better than any version of WP? That's just silly.

Also, stuff in Windows didn't run so much as it crawled as it really needed more memory than was common at the time. A suitable amount of RAM was quite expensive in those days. It's an easy detail to forget and an easy one to miss when you are playing around with emulation on a modern machine.

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Silver badge

No 12 out of 12 said MS did the dirty on WP

One bloke though maybe it was doomed anyway but ALL the jurors thought MS was guilty of anticompetitive behaviour,

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Bronze badge

Compatibility

I didn't use word perfect until 1996/7, and the version then was actually quite good for professional users, once you got used to it.

But the worst problem was document compatibility, exchanging documents between organisations with Microsoft, Lotus or IBM Displaywrite was a problem, but mostly on the Microsoft side. Word documents rearely loaded into the compeating products without problems, though the reverse was not the case. Word had no problem with other products.

I also noticed that, for some reason DDE calls to Word worked better from non-Microsoft products, and that DDE calls from within never quite worked as well.

Government bodies by this time were looking at choosing new packages to eliminate these issues, and tended to let the user community decide, which was usually for Word and Outlook, because they had that at home. You could always get a good package deal on a new PC with Office.

Fast forward a few years and the other vendors had more or less given-up, but Open Office was around, and again the problem was that the published MS document Standard was not the same as the output from Word. Although I think that was and still is down to cock-up not conspiracy.

All in all, Office would have won anyway, because it's a better marketed product, but we now have a situation where there is no real choice, once you take the Microsoft pill, you take it for life.

Lotus, and Novell failed to respond to Microsoft's strategy in an effective way, and thus lost. Undoubtedly some of their behaviour was anti-competative, and they should be held to account, but 17 years down the road, what real punishment can you inflict, that makes sense.

Ultimately, we put Microsoft where it is now we have to live with it.

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Silver badge

What to do

'Undoubtedly some of their behaviour was anti-competative, and they should be held to account, but 17 years down the road, what real punishment can you inflict, that makes sense.'

You could call them out on exactly *which* patents Linux infringes for a start.

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Trollface

I know this steak doesn't exist....

"you take the Microsoft pill, you take it for life."

(Cypher)After seventeen years, want to know what I think? Ignorance is bliss.(/Cypher)

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Anonymous Coward

Compatibility

If you read that particular email addressed to Gates and others in which a developer asks if some API should be hidden and the famous mail from J Allchin saying that MS should smile at Novell while pulling the trigger then you'll understand what this trial is all about.

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I recall the Word for windows could read and write Wordperfect for dos files, but that Wordperfect for windows had lots of bugs reading Wordperfect for dos files!

I think Word for Windows did will, as it was not a new product but was a port of Word for Mac and therefore had many years to sort out bugs before anyone used it on Windows.

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WTF?

The war was over when Word 2.0 was released

I remeber using Word 2.0 from a single 720k floppy. Even this version of word was so much better than WordPerfect as its peak. Sure Word 2.0 lacked some useful features by comparison to WordPerfect but the WYSIWYG view was a killer feature and more than made up for the lack of other features. WordPerfect by this time felt like it was crippling my productivity what with all the combination keystrokes compared to point and click in Word 2.0.

Microsoft Word succeeded because it WAS BETTER. Novell and Attachmate should stop wasting the little money Novell has left and focus on making some sales before Novell itself becomes a museum piece like WordPerfect.

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FAIL

missing the point

It doesn't matter if Wordperfect was doomed anyway... Microsoft could have let market forces drive it to the final death.

The issue and question is; did Microsoft illegally hasten that death? Seems like the votes are 23 for, one against.

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Anonymous Coward

A bit irrelevant

I still have the impression that the reason WordPerfect died was not because of Word but because of Excel. As late as 97, I still found a lot of people who strongly believed WordPerfect was better than Word. In fact in the organisation I worked in, this was such a strong belief that WordPerfect 6.2 (if I remember correctly) was the word processor of choice. However, Excel by that time was head and shoulders better than every other spreadsheet package. And no-one in the finance departments of any large organisation would even consider allowing you to buy anything except Excel. In fact, we deployed a hybrid office system to all our desktops, WordPerfect and Presentations from Corel Office and Excel 5 from MS Office.

The people who would refuse to change from WordPerfect were in places like the old typing pool, or the executive secretaries. Invariably they used WordPerfect 5.1 and swore by it, but didn't have the political capital to stop the changes. Once they had changed to the windows version of WordPerfect, changing to a different WYSIWYG word processor didn't bother them as much, so moving to Office 97 (which was the step we took) was actually easy to do.

The funny thing is, I don't remember having any problems with WordPerfect 6.2 on Windows; however, we were using it on Windows 3.11 since our first deployment of 32 bit Windows was NT4 with Office 97. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some anti-competitive behaviour from Microsoft in the switch to 32 bit OSs, but I think Quattro Pro to Wordperfect, it is pretty clear who would have run the race for office suites in the end.

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