Windows 7, Salesforce Settlement, Bing Maps Dominated Microsoft Week

Aug 8th, 2010 | By technologynews | Category: Technology

Microsoft enjoyed some positive news this week, at least on
the legal front: the company announced Aug. 4 that it had settled its
patent-infringement cases with Salesforce.com, heading off what promised to be
a protracted legal battle.

Salesforce.com will receive broad coverage under
Microsofts patent portfolio for its products and services as well as its
back-end server infrastructure during the term, read
an Aug. 4 statement issued by Microsoft
. Also as part of the agreement,
Microsoft receives coverage under Salesforce.coms patent portfolio for
Microsofts products and services.

Microsoft initially filed suit against Salesforce in May,
alleging infringement of nine patents. Not to be outdone, Salesforce filed a
lawsuit of its own in June, accusing Microsoft of violating five patents. In a
move seemingly calculated to drive Redmond executives blood pressure through
the roof, Salesforce also retained David Boieswho originally represented the
Justice Department in its landmark antitrust suit against Microsoftas counsel.

Despite those mutual accusations of intellectual-property
violation, Salesforce will be the one compensating Microsoft for patents,
although neither company disclosed the exact amount. Whatever the final
monetary agreement, though, it could very well prove less expensive for
Salesforce than a courtroom brawl; the sheer vitriol exhibited by both
companies over the summerSalesforce CEO Marc Benioff, not exactly a shirking
violet of an executive, took the opportunity of a May earnings call to refer to
Microsoft as a collective of patent trolls and alley thugsled some pundits
and analysts to believe a true battle royale was in the making.

However, at least one analyst feels that Salesforce may have
underestimated its opponents capacity for legal aggression.

Salesforce both appeared to infringe in areas where
companies like Microsoft are most sensitive to infringement, and then rubbed
Microsofts face in it by effectively saying, So what are you going to do
about it? Rob Enderle, principal analyst of the Enderle Group, wrote in an
Aug. 5 email to eWEEK. They were apparently betting on some kind of massive
Open Source defense and didnt realize they were believing in the technology equivalent
of Santa Claus.

For Salesforce, the settlements effects could be
long-lasting. 

It means that Salesforce will likely have to change aspects
of future products so they dont infringe on critical areas, Enderle
continued, share some of their profits with Microsoft, and can go back to
running their slightly less profitable business. Microsoft gets some money
(likely not material) and enhances their reputation as a company not to be
lightly messed with.

The settlement could also affect Microsofts cloud
prospects, at least when it comes to dealing with other companies in the space.

It should also improve Microsofts chances of getting
similar agreements from others over time which, collectively, is material to
the company, Enderle added.

Even as Microsoft moved past its Salesforce conflict, it
also continued to distance itself from the sad legacy of Windows Vista:
analysis firm Net Applications reported this week that, according to its own
estimates, the
market-share for Windows 7 passed that of Vista in July
.

Windows 7s market share that month reached 14.46, according
to the firm, passing Vistas 14.34 percent. That represents a significant
change from October 2009, the month of Windows 7s release, when Vista ran on
18.83 percent of personal computers.

However, Net Applications also noted that Windows XP is
still the leading operating system by far, with double the share of Vista and 7
combined. Despite Microsoft pushing users of the decade-old Windows XP to
transition to Windows 7, a number of businesses and consumers seem equally
determined to stay with an operating system that, despite its somewhat aged
interface, is well-baked into their IT infrastructure.

Recognizing that, Microsoft announced in July that Windows
XP Professional users could keep their downgrade rights through the life cycle
of Windows 7. Previously, those rights had been scheduled to expire July 12,
with the availability of the Windows SP1 beta.

Our business customers have told us that removing end-users
downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional could be confusing, Brandon
LeBlanc, a spokesperson for Microsoft, wrote July 12 on The Windows Blog,
given the rights change would be made for new PCs preinstalled with Windows 7
and managing a hybrid environment with PCs that have different end-user rights
based on date of purchase would be challenging to track.

Net Applications also estimated July gains for Internet Explorer,
which it said now occupies 60.74 percent of the browser marketan increase from
Junes 60.32 percent. The firm estimated Firefox at 22.91 percent, followed by
Chrome with 7.16 percent, Safari with 5.09 percent, and Opera with 2.45
percent.

Whatever lies behind those gains, however, Microsoft
has also faced questions about Internet Explorers priorities when it comes to
privacy
: a widely circulated Aug. 1 article in The Wall Street Journal
suggested that, when the Internet Explorer team wanted to design software that
counteracted common Web-tracking tools, Microsoft executives resisted the
initiative on the theory that it would impede their online-ad selling
operation.

That article quoted Brad Smith, Microsofts general counsel,
as saying the company tried to combine those differing viewpoints into a single
initiative that balanced the privacy interests of consumers and the critical
role advertising plays in content. 

Microsoft responded to those privacy concerns in
an Aug. 1 posting on The Windows Internet Explorer Weblog
, insisting that
browsing the Web is fundamentally an information exchange and that your Web
browser offers information in order to get information. But Microsofts
opponents in the space may nonetheless try to leverage those concerns to
competitive advantage.

Microsofts
other Web initiatives this week included the integration of a handful of new
features into Bing Maps
, including a Taxi Fare Calculator and a World of
Football app that displays soccer scores from around the world and zooms into
stadiums. Whether Bings more colorful and detailed maps, accessible only by
downloading the newest version of Silverlight, are enough to pull users from
Google Maps is an open question; but along with the Salesforce settlement this
week, it suggests that Microsoft is paying more attention to cloud-based
applications than ever. 

 

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