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Microsoft gets little sympathy from federal (non)fan base

In response to our recent coverage of a court ruling against Microsoft, numerous readers posted comments expressing their ambivalence about their reliance on the company’s software. Even some readers who wrote to say the case had no merit qualified their comments by noting they were “no fan of Microsoft.”

The case itself involved a Canadian company called i4i that asserted Microsoft had infringed on a patent for technology that makes it possible for Microsoft Word software to handle XML code. A federal judge ruled in favor of i4i and ordered Microsoft to stop selling its software beginning in mid October. (Read more about the ruling here and about its potential impact on federal customers here).

Some readers do not like what they see as Microsoft’s predatory business practices.

“They seem to be a company choking on their own hubris,” wrote M. “Gates got out of ‘Dodge’ just in time. They clearly were beginning to lose traction on users. There are those who say Microsoft bought, stole, intimidated and stole their way to the top. Have they finally been caught?”

“Microsoft isn't going to stop selling word processing software just because some judge hits them with an injunction,” another reader said. “They might not be selling Word, but you can bet that whatever the renamed product is, it will contain the same functionality as Word. The bottom line is that the federal government needs Microsoft far more than Microsoft needs the federal government.”

For others, the case is just an opportunity to complain about the software itself, especially Word 2007.

“Perhaps i4i has done us all a favor,” a reader concluded: “As far as I am concerned, Office 2007 fixed something that was not broken. I still have a hard time finding what I need on those 2007 'ribbons.' Office 2003 is well known, easy to use and capable of serving almost everyone's needs.”

But most readers took a more pragmatic view, concerned about what would happen if the injunction were allowed to stand.

“The federal government is essentially a Microsoft house, bought and paid for,” according to RayW. “How WILL this affect us? Will we get/have to upgrade back to an earlier version of Office or will the big guns in the fed system put the screws to the judges and say ‘No way, we have a vested interest in this not happening'?”

“The problem here is that Microsoft is being punished for using an open document standard,” Scott wrote. “Office 2007 is actually a step forward in usability, and this ruling will force them to patch out the ability to use the new file formats, which will in turn cost everyone, private and government, in terms of server space used for end-user documents.”

“Maybe the folks of the previous postings forgot what it was like when software was plain 'incompatible' and documents sent all over the country and/or within a business couldn't be read,” another reader says. “Wake up. You're probably using Microsoft's product to make you more productive.”

“The fine may or may not stand, but the ruling to stop selling Word will never stand,” says ChrsAntiThesis. “I don't think the system as a whole has lost its marbles that much yet.”

A few other people took it a step further and advised their fellow commenters, in short, to get over it.

Keninmo wrote, “If you don't like Microsoft, don't buy it, simple, go buy WordPerfect. :-) Nobody forces a person to buy MS Office, and you are perfectly free to reformat your hard drive and install a non-Window OS.”

Which prompted this from Ken: “Oh no, don't tell me Word Perfect is making a comeback -- I removed my F10 key!”

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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