announced the royalty free licensing of the Office User Interface. At first
glance this seems like a very generous offer since it includes much detail on
how to what behaviors you must implement (Ribbon resizing anybody?). On one
level this is amazing if you don’t compete with MS you can mimic there look and
feel with no guess work involved. You will spend many fewer hours playing
around with Word trying to decide exactly what happens in each case – they’ve
already done most of the work for you.
You can build
your product on Windows, Linux, OSx. This is all good. This means that a user
will be able to sit down in front of an application that supports the new UI
and it will behave the same as Office 2007 would.
Paczkowski on GMSV thinks this is an entirely good thing, but I think there’s a catch.
The license isn’t royalty free if your product competes with: Word,
Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Access. I appreciate that MS spent a lot of
money developing the new UI, but aren’t we back to threat of Look and Feel lawsuits.
I thought we’d seen the last of these Lotus? Borland? in the ‘90s.
If I want
to write a competing product am I safe if I don’t sign the license agreement and
just copy the look and feel? Can you copyright Look and Feel? Patent it?
Who decides what is a competing application? Does MS decide before or after I’ve written it? Is this decision revisited every time I release a new version of my application?
Is MS is targeting anyone here? OpenOffice? StarOffice? Google
Spreadsheet/Writely? Novell Evolution? Corel WordPerfect? Or do you just think
I’m inventing a conspiracy theory for the sake of it?
So Jensen what would the terms be if OpenOffice came knocking? How can we be sure that you won’t pull the rug out from under our feet by declaring after a couple years of work that our application competes with office?
BTW Marc Orchant makes mention of Jensen’s post but misses the big questions.
Thanks to Stuart
Laughlin for first mentioning this on the WinTech OffTopic list.
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