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back to article Gates: Novell are sore losers, Word trounced WordPerfect

Hard work and the competition's ineptitude saw Microsoft Word thump WordPerfect, Bill Gates told a US court hearing the $1bn anti-competition case brought by Novell. Gates told a court in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday that his Redmond minions "worked super-hard" on Word. He added: "It was a ground-breaking piece of work, and …

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What we should learn from that

Never trust an API only promised by a single company. Keep your software portable.

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wp sucked donkey., I hated it. Was clunky as you like. Word however was easy to use and was (before the bloody ribbon) intuitive.

I never understood why everyone raved about WP and 123 they were nasty

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"Word however was easy to use and was (before the bloody ribbon) intuitive."

You don't mean intuitive you mean unfamiliar. What you mean is that you were fully accustomed to the Word way of doing things and anything different requires you to relearn how to make it work. That is why you don't care for the ribbon, not because it's unintuitive (no software is) but because it's unfamiliar. To paraphrase I don't remember who, the nipple is intuitive, everything else is learned.

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I also vote for Ami Pro

I used WforW v6 at work - fat, slow, buggy, unhelpful.

I used Ami Pro at home - twice as fast, integrated pictures, nice to use.

Ami Pro died when Lotus "upgraded" it to WordPro.

These days I see little point in using a computer to mimic paper. It makes as much sense as the guy at a place where I worked in the 80s who used the flash new HP9836 to print off Sine tables. He clearly hadn't really grasped the idea of a computer.

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Gates tells the truth...

What he says is perhaps accurate but it seems it is incomplete. Novell may have been inept, but not at writing code, they were inept in managing Microsoft in that they did not bring Microsoft's alleged manipulations into the light of day when they were happening. Mr. Gates says that they (Novell) "had simply been unable to deliver a version of word processor WordPerfect that was better than Microsoft's Word in time for the launch of Windows 95". What he fails to convey is that Novell's inability was allegedly enhanced by Microsoft imposing license restrictions which made software development with the then new Windows 95 product nearly impossible.

Remember rule #1. Don't deal with Microsoft.

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The real issue

The real issue is that Novel gave away their right to sue and already received some money when Correl sued MS. As much as people might dislike MS their has to be and end to it . If MS is going to keep on getting sued for the exact same action against the exact same person why stop until the DOJ makes them ?

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Around the Windows 3 era, The standard word processor in the company I worked for was Multimate, remember that one ?

If I remember rightly, the DOS version of Wordperfect was used a lot in law firms.

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Anonymous Coward

Seems to me...

...that WP was the better word processor in the old days, but was never reliably stable in any release of Windows. Subsequent versions never got better in this regard. Who's to blame for that? I suspect we'll never know. My own history of software usage goes back to WP5 and Word 1.0, never did use WordStar, though that was the other alternative. For now, I'll stick to Libre/OpenOffice. I don't use MS Office unless I absolutely have to, and fecking hate very minute of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Sore losers, eh ?

Just take a look at the following :

http://www.groklaw.net/pdf/Comes-2158.pdf

Yes, I know, it is posted on Groklaw website but it is an official document as presented in court.

I would appreciate for those tempted to down vote this post to come up with decent arguments for doing that.

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Optional

Doesnt bother me as I am still using IBM DisplayWrite 4.

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Holmes

Does anyone have any insight on which DLLs and APIs we're talking about here? This sounds like a suspiciously bad excuse from Novell's part.

What magical functions could have been the sole reason a program as complex and extensive as a word processor and as famous and widespread as WP failed?

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Facepalm

Probably the ones from Advanced Windows NT (ISBN 1556155670, 1993)

Still available from Amazon apparently. If WP Corp / Novell actually used these guides they could have prepared for Windows 95 at least two years before the fact.

A core "Designed for Windows 95" requirement was compatibility with Windows NT 3.5, aside from programs that used the DirectX API if I recall. Advanced Windows 2nd Edition (ISBN 1556156774, January 1995) would've filled in the gaps between NT 3.5 and 95 about six months before the fact.

(By the way Downvoters: I have to cite sources to get my points across because I take an unpopular view here. You are not held to such a standard. Be thankful before hitting the Dislike button.)

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Happy

@ZeldronGG

Look at the document cited in grocklaw 2 or 3 items above you.

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Windows

Eh?

(he) testified that the Windows team dumped a technical feature that would have supported WordPerfect because he was worried it might crash the operating system.

So what about all the other technical features that DID crash Windows 95, was he worried about them?

Ahh the happy days spent curing .dll hell, the registry, and trying to figure out what the BSoD ment

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WP was King

I used Word Perfect from DOS days through Windows 3.1, 3.11 and 95 in the admin jobs I had at the time. I absolutely loved the script writing ability of WP - you could simply and quickly write mini-programs to deal with fiddly tasks such as filling in fields to print on pre-formatted form paper instead of writing it out by hand.

I worked for the Housing Commission (public housing provider) where we had to manually write out an initial five rent deposit slips for the new tenant to use until their printed book arrived. There were six fields to complete on each slip - name, address, account number, reference number, and a couple of others i can't recall. The fields were small, so it was a time consuming, diabolical tasks to do 30 times a day x 5. Then I wrote a WP script (took me about 20 minutes to write it and get it working perfectly) which allowed staff to type the info up in 20 seconds to have 10 slips printed in about the same time, down from the 5+ minutes to hand print 5 slips and eliminating the hand cramps everyone complained about. That was the power of Word Perfect.

Word Perfect was a better program. It was a more powerful program and as noted by someone else, had a reveal codes function which actually revealed all the hidden stuff, allowing you to quickly identify and remove unnecessary formatting codes that were causing a document to not preview as expected.

I currently use Pages and occasionally MS Word 11 but if Correll released a new version of Word Perfect for Mac, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

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I liked Ami Pro too

I had Ami Pro and quite liked it. It had a macro language that I had some fun with. Its successor was Lotus Word Pro, which according to Wiki is now called IBM Lotus Word Pro, and still appears to be available for sale:

http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/products/smartsuite/wordprofeatures.html

Moving on a few years from Windows 95, in 2000 I bought a PC which came with Word Perfect Office Suite. The word processor in that was far easier to use than Word 97 which I had at work, and had a quality rock solid feel to it that was missing from the Microsoft product.

I tried to buy the Linux version of WP Office Suite, but wasn't fast enough off the mark, for it was withdrawn from the market. I honestly don't know whether it was pulled because of "pressure" or because it didn't work as advertised. The other Linux office suites at the time were pretty unreliable in my experience.

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WP on Linux

I got WordPerfect for Linux from Corel - must still have the CD somewhere - but it was a pig.

Could have been gotten to work (I mean WP on Linux, not the 0.001 version that was released) but I guess nobody was interested. I know it disappeared almost as soon as it appeared as a commercial package.

Didn't know there was a suite.

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If I remember correctly the Linux version got pulled at about the same time as MS and Corel settled a disagreement and it isn't strange when you consider Borland stopped producing Kylix at the same time as MS and Borland settled a disagreement.

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WTF?

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

I thought he was supposed to be giving evidence, not a marketing presentation.

I suppose he doesn't know the difference.

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Unhappy

From the Groklaw PDF an MS strategy begins to emerge.

Identify key apps that would encourage users to migrate to other OS's *if* they moved.

Encourage them *not* to move.

Sucker them into using "selected" API's

Dump the API pre-launch crippling the competition and leaving the way clear for your products (whose developers were warned these API's are "provisional" wink, wink).

Obviously if you're the sort of corporate sociopath for whom words like "fairness", "legal", and "competitive" are just words this routine won't bother you in the slightest. MS's past behavior suggests they have managers who fit that description quite well.

While MS *might* be less inclined to do this today that probably owes more to the fact there are fewer market niches that they don't control the #1 player in on windows and so fear what would happen if *that* player moved to another OS *possibly* taking their user base with them.

Moral of this story. If you compete with MS in *any* market, even one they would *like* to be in and your software depends on windows APIs in *any* way keep your documentation up to date (and retain older copies to see what has been air brushed out) and don't hesitate to fire up a debugger (preferably *not* the MS debugger) if anything starts acting odd.

MS moved into ERP a while ago.

I'd suggest Oracle and SAP better watch out for any "surprise" API changes which just happen to kneecap their products under Windows.

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Facepalm

Oracle needs to fix their own garbage first

"I'd suggest Oracle and SAP better watch out for any "surprise" API changes which just happen to kneecap their products under Windows."

Surprises like prohibiting non-admin write access to the root of the system volume, perhaps?

Is Oracle the only Windows developer that still installs their code in "C:\ORACLE" sixteen years after the release of Windows 95?! And then insist that non-admins need read/write access to this folder to run any Oracle-based applications?

Maybe I need to start a fundraiser for poor companies like Novell and Oracle that can't afford copies of official eighteen-year-old books (Advanced Windows 1st through 4th editions) so they can keep up with the rest of the PC world. Hidden APIs or no, how about documented, well-known ones?

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I really don't understand what these APIs did

... and why they were so vital. I mean, why did people need special file dialog calls, what was wrong with the standard ones? I have been developing Windows software for ages, albeit vertical market apps and have never needed any weird undocumented APIs.

The MAPI thing, on the other hand, does sound rather unpleasant.

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Linux

Microsoft "worked super-hard" on Word?

Yeah, they worked "super-hard" ... by poaching Charles Simonyi and Richard Brodie from Xerox, to "rewrite" Xerox Bravo, the first GUI word processor, then rebrand it as Microsoft's "innovation".

Then they worked "super-hard" to break cross-platform software, by releasing deliberately broken APIs, whilst using undocumented APIs for their own software, just like they did with Novell, Netscape, Real Networks and anyone else who dared to support anything but just Windows.

Both the DOJ and the EU Commission have already exposed Microsoft's criminal business methods in great detail, producing swath of court evidence, most of which originates from within Microsoft, so why does this even need to go to trial again? It should be an open and shut case.

Here's a good summary:

http://www.ecis.eu/documents/Finalversion_Consumerchoicepaper.pdf

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WTF?

What I don't understand about this is....

... that I was using Wordperfect 5.2 for Windows back in 1992/93 on Windows 3.1/3.11. Well, when I say using I mean cursing and swearing a lot at the endless stream of GPF's. In short, it sucked well before Windows 95 was on the scene.

So, I switched to Word 2.0 then upgraded to 6.0.

By the time of Windows 95 general release nearly everyone had been through 3 years of Wordperfect sucking so badly that they all did the same thing and switched. I was working in the channel at the time and the number of Word crossgrade licenses we sold was staggering.

Odd thing is, other large companies like Lotus and Borland had no issues writing reliable software for 16 bit and (later) 32 bit Windows. Only WordPerfect sticks in my memory as having this issue.

This is like Corel trying to blame Microsoft for Corel Draw 4 being a big stinking pile of shite; I believe the reality is that either the programmers just weren't good enough, testing not through enough or the marketing teams were too dominant. I suspect all three.

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bep

In my opinion what killed Wordperfect wasn't Word, it was Excel.

MS bundled their word processor into MS Office and, IIRC, you couldn't even buy Word as a stand-alone program for a corporate environment. If you already have a decent word processor bundled with the spreadsheet all the accountants want then it's hard to justify buying a separate word processor, even if it was (and still is) better.

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Paris Hilton

If MS really did that.....

The PAs in the organisation I worked for in the early 90s tested WP and Word and unanimously determined WP to be the better application. As an amateur user, I found it much more intuitive, and the ability to see all the hidden commands in any document was a godsend compared to my kids' use of Word at home when, for example, we had to delete work and start again because the reasons underlying any incorrect formatting were just impossible to determine and fix

I can also remember sitting in my office at 03.00, using the Windows version of WP, 6.0 if I recall correctly, to work on what was a crucial document, and having to save it every time I changed just a single character, in case it might crash. I also remember my own PA in floods of tears trying to work with that version

If the problems we encountered then were really due to MS deliberately misleading the WP developers, regardless of how wrong it would undoubtedly be to do so, and while I would never advocate this as a course of action, as one who suffered from the consequences. I would find it very hard to shed any tears if someone took those responsible, lined them up on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and pushed them off

Paris, because at least she sucks honourably

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Linux

No need to get mad, just get even

Simple! Open Source WP and give it away. That'll screw Billy Boy over. Worked for Netscape!

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The Blue Screen of Life

WP 5.1 was undoubtably the best word processer made. Compared to its rivals - notably Wordstar, to a much lesser extent Word (<esc> to configure? That's like clicking "Start" to power off. Oh, yeah, same company) - it was head and shoulders above everything.

(Must say though that while I never cared for WordStar, I still use their CTRL-Key combos all the time.)

There are two features I very much miss from WP, unavailable in anything out there today:

* The ability to left, center AND right justify words in a single line of text.

* Reveal Codes.

This latter was an awesome feature, albeit required if you started delving into complicated docs.

Macro capability and customizable keyboard layouts were pretty cool too.

I swore off WP when the 'doze version came out. Knew they had lost the war, but didn't blame them at all. It was M$ they were up against, after all; the same guys who stole compression from Stacker, back when a 40 meg hard drive was considered huge (and cost twice that of the last 2TB USB I got from the local office supply store).

All this is making me wonder if I could somehow coerce 5.1 to run on my Macbook Pro. Sans Parallels, of course.

Then again, try as I might I can't successfully get my SuperDrive to read a 5.1" floppy, so installation may not be so easy a task...

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If history teaches us one thing .....

...... it is that more battles are lost through error than won through brilliance. Having a technically superior product is no guarantee of success, if you make a bad marketing decision.

Of course, if Microsoft really did deliberately mess up APIs (and that's not at all unlikely; Office versions up to 2000 appeared to reimplement some of the low-level functionality of Windows 9x) then that's another matter entirely.

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Yes!!

* The ability to left, center AND right justify words in a single line of text.

* Reveal Codes.

and all the other features mentioned.

With an original licence number, you could legally get WP5.1+ on a CD:

http://www.columbia.edu/~em36/wpdos/links.html

And then run it from a USB stick (on practically any version of Windoze):

http://www.wpuniverse.com/vb/showthread.php?31894-WPDOS-on-a-portable-USB-drive-new-system-for-5.1-or-6.2

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