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Microsoft Patent Woes Forcing Office Upgrade

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Corporate users of Microsoft’s productivity suites Office XP and Office 2003 will have to upgrade their software, in the wake of Microsoft’s court loss in a patent suit.

A data-linking technology used in Excel to connect it to Access databases was patented by Guatemalan inventor Carlos Armando Amado in 1990, after he developed it while a graduate student at Stanford. Microsoft turned down his offer to sell the company his technology in 1992.

The technology then turned up in Office 95 and has been used in versions of Office ever since. In June 2005, a California jury found in Amado’s favor and awarded him almost $9 million for the infringement, a far cry from the $500 million he had sought in damages.

Repercussions from that suit will be felt by the many enterprise users of current versions of Office XP and 2003. Microsoft has sent emails to those customers requesting they upgrade the software to remove the offending code, CNet reported.

That request could take some time for business customers to fulfill. The article cited Gartner analyst Michael Silver on the problems associated with such a change:

“It’s probably a multimonth effort” for companies that want to double-check that key databases and critical Excel macros all work, Silver said. The other option is to “roll the dice” and just switch to the new software, but “most companies don’t want to do that with critical resources,” he added.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Microsoft Patent Woes Forcing Office Upgrade
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