Friday, November 12, 2004

Novell sues Microsoft for sinking WordPerfect (revised)

Oh come on now.... we all know who sank WordPerfect and it certainly wasn't Microsoft.

(Craig set me right in his comments too - Noorda did a similar thing , overpaying for a product that was long in the tooth and then just calling in the lawyers. How much did Borland end up buying dBase for? They at least waited until the product was pretty much history in so far as being a market leader. There's something to be said about picking the right battles...)

It was Corel (among others) biting off more than they could chew with an owner (a certain Mr. Michael Cowpland) who made grandiose statements that couldn't be kept. Cowpland is a great visionary but he couldn't manage Corel at that size and he made a TERRIBLE mistaking buying a product like WordPerfect that simply hadn't kept up with the times.

Yes - there are secrets in Windows that maybe MS should be more open about - but to say they SANK WorkPerfect? WordPerfect was beginning to become a terrible product in the very first version of the Windows product - before Novell even owned it. I remember trying to save a basic document with some images and having it grow double the size each time. Let me guess - that was Microsoft Word secretly adding code into the Wordperfect file...

Unbelievable...

Novell sues Microsoft for sinking WordPerfect | Tech News on ZDNet

4 comments:

Craig said...

You're right and wrong. You're right that it wasn't Microsoft. Here's where you're wrong: WordImperfect was gone long before Novell sold it off to Cowpland and Corel. Ray Noorda, the former head honcho at Novell should take much of the blame. He had to fight Microsoft on everything, every step of the way. He's the one that overpaid to buy WordImperfect and then made the wrong decisions fighting Microsoft. Fighting things in court has long been Noorda's trademark. Even though he's no longer at Novell, his legacy and management style live on.

Andrew MacNeill said...

That's right Craig! There's something to be said about picking the right battles...

Intuit picked the right battle with Microsoft and they beat Money with Quicken regularly...

Mozilla is now doing it with Firebox...

But to go after Microsoft's crown jewel essentially guarantees a messy battle...

Ted Roche said...

Microsoft has already admitted and been convicted of unlawful business practices. This is just the civil portion of that process, paying damages for the crimes committed.

There's no question that Novell, Lotus, Corel and many other software shops had only themselves as their worst enemy. Bad judgements, poor quality, poor technical support killed most of these companies. But competing against a monopoly that went out of their way to hide APIs and "cut off the oxygen supply" of their competitors certainly didn't help.

Microsoft is doing a fine job of serving their stockholders in paying off and settling these claims for pennies on the dollar out of court, and at the same time, gaining valuable compromises, like the agreement by Novell to withdraw as claimant in the European Union's antitrust investigation against Microsoft. Between that, the new stock option plans Microsoft got approved, and the dividend payoff to its stockholders, Microsoft will shake off the 90s and come out a significantly different company. I think things are going as well as Microsoft could possibly hope.

Andrew MacNeill said...

Good point, Ted. If MS had been more open in their competitive practices from day one, then they would actually have been able to use the billions they are spending today on lawsuits.

I don't see anything wrong with two large companies getting together and saying "I go after this slice of the pie, you go after that one and between us, we'll squeeze out the competion" - as long as they do it fairly and openly. But when they then create contracts and practices designed to limit the consumers choices (exclusive branding for certain vendors so they can't - not won't - offer other alternatives) - then that is simply a monopolistic lawsuit in the waiting. Even smaller companies who do it should be barred from doing so. Because if they get bigger (as MS did), then they are just asking for trouble...