Microsoft Word Patch Intentionally Decreases Functionality

Word2007In response to a court order, Microsoft is issuing a “patch” that makes Word 2007 less useful.

The 2007 Microsoft Office OPK Master Kit Download, available on Microsoft’s OEM Partner Center, strips Word and other Office programs of custom XML editing capabilities.  “The following patch is required for the United States,” Microsoft said in a message on the site.

The move comes after an appeals court on Tuesday ordered Microsoft to stop selling Microsoft Word 2007 and other Office 2007 products by Jan. 11 because the software infringes on a patent held by a Canadian company. […] The ruling means Microsoft can’t sell versions of Word that can open documents saved in the .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM formats that contain custom XML. Those formats were at the heart of the patent dispute. DOCX is the default format for the most current version of Word, which is included in Microsoft Office 2007. Custom XML is used by businesses to link their corporate data to Word documents.

Now, I get that this (along with paying a $290 million fine) is something Microsoft has to do as punishment for violating a patent.  But does anyone expect people to actually install a patch to make their software unable to do things it could do when purchased?

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Science & Technology,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Nor can I. What’s more, Microsoft will probably use an auto-updater to apply the patch unbeknownst to most users. Would that constitute a breach of contract?

  2. JPSobel says:

    The patch has been sent to OEM distributors. It is only intended for use on new computers with Office 2007 or Word 2007 pre-installed. I have seen no indication that Microsoft will try (or needs) to push this patch through their update system.

    My understanding is that the court did not order Microsoft to “downgrade” any copies that have been sold. The court order is restricted to future sales of Word 2007.

  3. You have to understand that MS was caught in a trick. XML is usually an open format. MS said “hey look at our open XML!” while embedding proprietary codes within it. I had a hard time explaining even to some programmers how this could be done. They’d be stuck at “but MS is using XML!”

    So. Maybe you lose a feature. But certainly MS could have done the feature the foursquare way, rather than as a rather obvious (well to some of us) Trojan Horse.

  4. Sorry, I crossed stories. I was still back on this, and apparently suffering the multitasker’s penalty.

  5. But does anyone expect people to actually install a patch to make their software unable to do things it could do when purchased?

    No, they don’t. It’s called obstructive compliance. It’s the same reason, for example, if you open up most low flow showerheads, there is a piece of metal in them that you can pull out with your fingers that has a label on it that says something to the effect of “Do not remove this piece except for cleaning. Operating with flow limiter removed is proscribed by federal regulation.”

  6. anjin-san says:

    Get a Mac and get iWork. $79 and it crushes Office. Using a PC is pretty much akin to failing an intelligence test.

  7. Brett says:

    Get a Mac and get iWork. $79 and it crushes Office. Using a PC is pretty much akin to failing an intelligence test.

    You must be rather bitter from your time spent in Nobody-designs-applications-and-games-for-my-system land.

  8. ~trumwill says:

    Get a Mac and get iWork. $79 and it crushes Office.

    How good is their MS Access counterpart?

    Using a PC is pretty much akin to failing an intelligence test.

    Which Mac should I buy if I want to install six hard drives on it? Which Mac should I buy if I want a new $500 secondary computer? Where can I get instructions on building my own with spare parts laying around?

    Or does wanting things that Apple does not offer (external hard drives and used computers do not count) make me unintelligent?

    I’m glad that you like your Apple, though. People should buy and use whatever computers they prefer.

  9. Boyd says:

    Using a PC is pretty much akin to failing an intelligence test.

    And here we have even more evidence of anjin’s arrogance and ego (provably unsupported since he’s so often incorrect, as here).

  10. Bill H says:

    Typical of people who prefer something that is neither better nor worse than something else, merely different; they cannot set themselves apart by praising their product, it has nothing that is actually better than the other, so they bash the other product.

    Same with politics; Democrats and Republicans are certainly different, but one cannot really say that one is better than the other, they merely have different ideas and beliefs. So they set themselves apart each by bashing and disparaging the other party.

    And don’t start with, “but Republicans (or Democrats) really are wrong.” A difference of opinion is merely a difference of opinion; we are not talking about the shape of the Earth, we’re talking about governing principles.