re: Novell Puts Bill Gates On Witness Stand
Now HERE is some rewriting of reality. Let's sort out some strangely missing facts.
Come with me to the past... years before this imaginary legal fiasco supposedly happened. Novell at the time had the most credible networking software going, but no clue how to write workable, stable, useful applications at the user level. And when I say no clue, that's a compliment. Novell at the time considered the real world, the one we live in, to be far beneath it's technical perfection. Getting assistance, or even recognition of existence, from Novell was close to a religious experience for, you know, actual users. It was the world according to Geek.
WordPerfect was the crown jewel of a serious suite of superb applications. Their holdings included Quattro, which was WP's baby, a strong rival to the Lotus juggernaut and arguably better than Excel at the time, and Paradox, surely the best desktop database prior to possibly Access circa 2003 or so (some might argue with no exceptions yet today), for which they arranged a sharing accommodation with Borland.
Novell coveted the WordPerfect 'Office' product, the first significant product in the category for the desktop and small LANs. WPOffice at the time was a somewhat disjointed accumulation of the parts of the WordPerfect effort and not particularly well integrated, yet still approximately on a par with Lotus Notes, which was headed into the IBM camp. Novell figured out they needed to be able to compete with such a product for their own network offerings if they wanted to be competitive -- much less the growing importance of early versions of Microsoft Office. That was, at least in the geek sense, spot on.
The whole WordPerfect universe was the result of years of development by competent in-house management, and a dedicated technical team that valued and actually DID customer service. For FREE. The user base was loyal, the product was significant, and Word at the time was a comparative joke. But in 1994 (assume more than a week or two of negotiations, so really dating from 1993), after more than 15 years of work, and a staggering offer from Novell, WP was sold.
Novell took the whole shebang, including the single part they craved... the Office package, renamed as 'GroupWise'. They cared not one whit about the future of WordPerfect, or Quattro, or Paradox, the existing WP staff or anything that smacked of living breathing people. They did away with free customer service and effective support, happily charging people to be insulted by geeks, and basically stopped doing development of anything resembling an end-user application. Which is a karmic feature of this tale, since group software is by definition aimed to be used by those damned users. There's a reason for the slimy insults to WP versus MSWord, and it has nothing to do with the technical elements of the product. All this just as Microsoft was stumbling towards release of Windows 95.
Microsoft is not innocent in the deal. They were not in full control of the technology they intended to release as Windows 95, and near the point of introduction were madly making changes of various parts that did impact the ongoing compatibility of significant products that took advantage of internal 'hooks' -- such as WP -- to the point that not having access to those 'features' was a great injury to prior art. Perhaps the omissions were done on purpose... we'll never know. Much like the sort of thing they did with Vista, when the super-secret unauthorized internal functionality that many older drivers depended on (tricks that MS always discouraged, but let's not get into that swamp) disappeared. But of course Novell, in their technical perfection, was never going to stoop so low as to pick up the phone and call to see what to do. Competition, you know.
So here we are at 1995. Novell had owned the WP package for a year or so and had essentially discontinued effective development of all applications, including WP, to chase the phantom of Notes on the desktop. MS was introducing a major revision of Windows that did not maintain backwards compatibility very well for (some) sophisticated applications. Nobody was talking to anyone. Word (and MS Office) was a growing force. No heroes anywhere. Can't see any problems with that, can we?
For Novell today to engage in a lawsuit over any of this is insane.
After the fact of the 1995 debacle, a few years down the road, when the geek contingent of Novell had effectively neutered the whole WP package by ignoring it, not to mention failing utterly to produce anything to challenge Notes, the manglement contingent of Novell sold it all.
Yeah, I liked WP. A lot. It had features and services that MSWord took years to emulate, and a user interface that is still better than most. Today, it's all gone, gutted to be basically an imitation MSWord, down to the point of implementing VBA. Corel has milked the entire WP family of products for all the reputation it carried, and done nothing to maintain any inkling of superiority. Take the money and run. Sad story.