Summary: As Microsoft struggles to keep Office in the market, Google seizes the opportunity and poaches big customers
IN PREVIOUS posts about the i4i case we showed that not patents alone were the issue. Microsoft befriended a company for the sole purpose of taking a look at its portfolio and then eliminating it through imitation and bundling [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. As Mr. Updegrove points out, so many articles were published about the subject (Microsoft is now appealing urgently), but his thoughts on the subject are thought provoking, so here are some portions of interest:
The other reason I haven’t yet written is equally simple: the latest skirmish that i4i won in Texas really doesn’t matter very much.
Huh? Then why, you may fairly ask, are we reading so many breathless articles (3,227, by the Google News count as of this moment in time), speculating on the consequences and opportunities that will follow when the sixty days runs out under the Texas judgment, and Office disappears from the shelves of the U.S. retail world? Isn’t Office Suite Life As We Know It about to end?
Well, no. Sorry. The key of course, is that patents in general, and the i4i patent as well, are all about money. Whether or not Microsoft’s emergency appeal to lift the Judge’s order barring it from selling Office with Word as currently configured (i.e., with the specific offending XML capability included upon which the i4i suit focuses) is successful, I’ll wager you that no one will have any more trouble buying Office the day after the 60 day pendancy period runs out than they did before. That’s because the key to the solution is also all about money, calculated under three alternate paths.
1. What about the “New Microsoft?” For some time now, Microsoft has been saying that it has grown up, leaving its Bad Boy adolescent behavior behind. One element of that bad behavior was getting small companies to open their technological kimonos to give Microsoft a peek, in hopes of getting an advantageous business relationship, only to find that Microsoft instead knocked off their technology, including it for free in a Microsoft product, and putting the little companies out of business, or close to it. That’s what i4i says happened here, and the judge agreed. So much for the New Microsoft.
Over at Groklaw, Jones writes: “I have a suggestion for you, so you can test his words out: search through Ecma’s OOXML standard for yourself, and I believe you’ll find it refers to “customXML” over 1000 times. The article goes on to state that i4i examined OpenOffice and found it doesn’t infringe their patent.”
The blogger at Google Watch says that advantage is being taken by Google.
Don’t think that Google and other providers of word processing software aren’t watching the Microsoft vs. i4i case with interest.
Unrelated to the above court ruling, it turns out that Motorola has dumped Microsoft Office for Google Apps.
Business Insider reports that Motorola ’s Mobile Devices Division (a.k.a mobile phone division) will be replacing some Microsoft Office services with Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Apps as the company’s collaboration/communication platform . The move will net Google another 20,000 users of its enterprise Google Apps service, and should help lower Motorola’s operating costs.
This is covered in some other places and there are more such stories on their way. Last month it happened in the New Zealand Post and Slayton lied about it, but this time around she actually defends Google Apps. There are pros and cons to Fog Computing, but as long as Google Apps can export documents as ODF (which is can), then lock-in is minimal. Regarding privacy, given the many back doors in Microsoft products, it’s not as though Microsoft Office offered much privacy, either. This issue is therefore off the table. Regarding downtime/uptime (in the context of SaaS), prospective customers should ask themselves how much downtime is caused by a virus infection in Windows/Office. More to the point — how much labour and compromise does the latter type of downtime entail? █