Microsoft has lost its appeal of the injunction in the i4i patent lawsuit that prohibited it from selling versions of Office (specifically Word) in the US that contain code with the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML. As a result, the folks in Redmond are scrambling to comply by the required January cutoff date:
This injunction applies only to copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007 sold in the U.S. on or after the injunction date of January 11, 2010. Copies of these products sold before this date are not affected.
With respect to Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007, we have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction in August 2009 and have put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from these products. Therefore, we expect to have copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Office 2007, with this feature removed, available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date. In addition, the beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are available now for downloading, do not contain the technology covered by the injunction.
While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options, which could include a request for a rehearing by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals en banc or a request for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ed Bott has more information on what specifically Microsoft is doing for its various Office distribution channels and the net is that there does not seem to be any reason for Office sales to grind to a stop in the USA.
Today Microsoft unveiled an invited beta program for Office 2010 (codenamed Office 14):
Today, at its Worldwide Partner Conference 2009, Microsoft Corp. announced that Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Microsoft Visio 2010 and Microsoft Project 2010 have reached the technical preview engineering milestone. Starting today, tens of thousands of people will be invited to test Office and Visio as part of the Technical Preview program.
It’s a private beta limited to invitees, the beta code will apparently not be available until August, and the final products won’t be available until the first half of 2010. You can find out about the usual incremental Office improvements at the Office 2010 Web site, but the biggest buzz is about the Web versions tentatively named Office Web applications (although Microsoft is looking for a new name):
Office Web applications — the lightweight Web browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote — that provide access to documents from virtually anywhere and preserve the look and feel of a document regardless of device.
The company also announced that Office Web applications will be available in three ways: through Windows Live, where more than 400 million consumers will have access to Office Web applications at no cost; on-premises for all Office volume licensing customers including more than 90 million Office annuity customers; and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to purchase a subscription as part of a hosted offering.
So Microsoft has bitten the bullet and will go free on the Web version of their Office cash cow and the lines are drawn with Google Apps and the other free online office software competitors. Of course, Microsoft really didn’t have much choice if they wanted anyone to pay attention. Stay tuned for a raft of side-by-side comparisons and feature wrangling among the players.
Coincident with Microsoft’s announcement today responding to all the online Web office application bustle, Adobe jumped into the game by announcing the acquisition of Virtual Ubiquity, a vendor with an online word processing application conveniently built on Adobe RIA tooling, and also announced an online file sharing service.
A variety of Microsoft news items from this week that did not find a post of their own.
European regulators are questioning Microsoft Corp.’s competitors on whether the company is using its dominance in word processing and spreadsheets to thwart rivals, weighing whether to open a new front in the antitrust dispute.
Danger, Will Robinson! Related: EU Extends Microsoft’s Deadline to April 23 to Answer New EU Charges on Licenses.
Yahoo ups the ante for free email with unlimited storage offer. Maybe they make it up on volume? Perhaps more importantly, they also opened up the Yahoo mail APIs to third party developers.
Microsoft warns of zero-day Windows bug. Even worse, it’s a drive-by for all Windows versions including Vista with tainted Web sites or email causing an immediate infection. The problem is due to a glitch in animated cursor handling and third parties are already releasing their own fixes while waiting for Microsoft. A fake IE7 download email is also making the rounds. I got one and was flattered that firstname.lastname@example.org wrote to personally ask me to download IE7 when I have been avoiding it like the plague.
Microsoft’s announcement of the Xbox 360 Elite was rather an anticlimax after all the leaks. The key point is that the targets for the Elite are the upscale gamers and home entertainment users courted by Sony with the PS3 while Microsoft disdains those “childish” gamers buying the Nintendo Wii. (That’s Nintendo you hear laughing all the way to the bank.) There’s also another opinion that the primary target is really Wall Street, but I digress. Meanwhile, Sony’s PS3 looks to be getting a new 80GB hard drive and apparently sold well after its European launch.
Microsoft added Netflix founder Reed Hastings to the board of directors and maintained the dividend at $0.10.
SoftGrid roadmap: SP1 for 4.1 expected in April/May and along with a tech preview of 4.2. 4.2 RTM and availability “some time around July.”