Speaking of Microsoft's neighborly ways, folks may need to start reading
certain licensing agreements very carefully. I got a peek at an internal
memo circulated from the legal department of a large technology company
that's frequently a Microsoft dance partner. Buried deep in the
contracts is an "immunity from suit" provision in which the big company
agrees not to sue Microsoft or Microsoft's customers and OEMs for
infringement of said company's own patents.
In effect, signing an agreement that includes this clause would give
Microsoft a royalty-free license to a company's patents. The lawyer goes
on to mention that the potential loss of patent licenses is "worth
millions of dollars" and that the Department of Justice says the practice
is "anti-competitive under applicable U.S. antitrust law."
Effective immediately, no agreement can be entered into between Microsoft
and this company without review by lots of attorneys.
I don't think I'll tear into Microsoft's shrink-wrapped software with the
same disregard for that user-license notice anymore.
Never known for getting its products out the door on time, Microsoft
Corp. confirmed that it will formally unveil Windows NT 4.0 next
Wednesday, one month earlier than expected.
Although users of the prerelease version said they haven't encountered
major flaws, some expressed concern that Microsoft may be shipping the
product before addressing minor bug and documentation woes.
But users said current prerelease versions are still beset by several
minor bugs and are missing key documentation. Some users speculated that
Microsoft was rushing NT 4.0 to beat Novell, Inc.'s next release of
NetWare, code-named Green River. That product is set to ship in
Lending credence to that theory was Microsoft's decision to ship a second
post-beta version only a week after it sent out the initial release to
200 sites. That is unprecedented, users said.
Ron Milione, professional services technical manager at Systron, Inc., a
Microsoft and Novell platinum reseller, said Microsoft typically takes
between 45 and 60 days between prerelease shipments. "Microsoft engineers
can't possibly have responded to or fixed the bugs everyone reported," he