Visto Lawsuit Raises Larger Issues

When I first heard a company named Visto was suing Microsoft, I assumed it was over the name Vista. But Visto has a different beef -- it claims that Redmond “misappropriated” Visto technology used to match servers and wireless devices to remotely access e-mail, and is in violation of three Visto patents. Because the suit was announced the day that Visto was acquired by BlackBerry-suing sourpuss NTP Inc., a holding company sitting on top of a bunch of e-mail patents, it’s tempting to leap to Microsoft’s defense.

But Visto, er, NTP, is criticizing how Microsoft is giving away technology that Visto was founded with through hard work and even harder-earned dollars to build and commercialize. This is what Redmond did with browsers, disk compression, media players -- heck, we even had to buy separate programs just to print in sideways mode (anyone remember Sideways from Funk Software?).

I’m pretty torn on this subject. When you give away the basic technology that competitors struggled to build so you can protect your monopoly, you might deserve to get sued. But I’d like to see some features that should be core to the OS, such as software that protects that OS. I say bundle anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-phishing and anti-hacking components until my computer is safe and secure.

What do you think should and shouldn’t be bundled with Windows XP? Write me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

SAP and Microsoft Partnerships Remains Tight
Speaking of the high end, Microsoft and SAP are developing a new tool that gives Microsoft Office users richer access to SAP data. Code-named Mendocino (if you think the code name should be the real name, let me know at dbarney@redmondmag.com), the product will be in beta (Microsoft for some dang reason calls it a Technology Preview) this week.

While productivity software has long front-ended large enterprise ERP, database, CRM and supply-chain apps, better integration is always good. In many cases we have terrific back-end apps that we fail to harness. Data is no good to anyone if it can’t be viewed, analyzed and acted upon.

This type of integration is also key to keeping OpenOffice and others from stealing Office market share.

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There’s a New Scam in Town
I’m used to getting fake proposals from Nigerians and notices of lottery winnings from Amsterdam and no longer fall for them. But when I heard that I won $500,000 in a Microsoft lottery, I sold the ‘79 Ford LTD wagon and bought a Hummer and a boat -- even before I collected my winnings!

Actually, I shouldn’t be telling you this, because the e-mail from Iries Van Guus, the lottery coordinator, asked me to keep it confidential for a while -- something about a mix-up in the numbers.

I’d write more but I have to rush off to my bank and make arrangements to forward a little cash advance to get the whole ball rolling.

It looks like this scam, which sullies the fine Microsoft name, has just recently been making the rounds. I guess they think the proud name of Microsoft, and their huge cash reserves, make it all the more believable.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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