23 Dec 2009
Judge Bans Microsoft from Selling Word …

… or at least that’s what the headlines say.

Gets your attention doesn’t it? Being such a fan of Microsoft, I couldn’t help but get a little buzz when I read that.

Actually, Microsoft is banned from selling versions of Word that contain a particular piece of “XML technology” which i4i has patented.

This is effective January 11, 2010. The injunction was originally granted last August, but was stayed until MS’s appeal, which they lost yesterday, was ruled upon.

I doubt that MS will actually stop selling Word; they’ll either drop the disputed technology or come up with some royalty agreement with i4i.

One concern I have, if they drop (or alter) the technology, is what effect that will have on the usability of older documents that were saved using the original code.

Just yesterday someone showed me a stack of diskettes they found while cleaning up their office, containing files generated with old software no one (that I know of) has any more. Fortunately, it was out of date material that could be discarded.

Archivists have legitimate concerns about digital artifacts. Not only is the software needed to process material soon out of date and no longer available, but the hardware needed to simply access the media is disappearing as well. For example, diskette drives are now usually special-order items rather than standard; how long before you can’t even get one at all?

But there are a few people who are thinking of The Long Now.

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