Microsoft Ordered to Stop Selling Word and Office?

Back in August, a court sided with a small Canadian company named i4i, which holds a patent from 1998. That patent deals with the way the XML language is implemented, and Microsoft was found to be in violation with its Word program. Microsoft was ordered to license the code from the i4i team, or reprogram it. Otherwise… Word would have to be removed from sale in the marketplace.

The original ruling was set to take place back in October, but appeals pushed that date back. The court has given their final ruling in this matter, and most news sources are saying that sales must stop. Also, Microsoft has a fat $290 million judgment ruling against them, as well. January 11th, 2010 is the official pull date for the software. As of that date, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Office will supposedlyboth be barred from sale. This includes both boxed copies found at retailers, as well as bundled copies on computers sold. Many computer manufacturers are not very happy about this ruling.

You’ll still be able to use your already-purchased copies, and Microsoft is allowed to continue to support them. That’s good news, at least. If you use Microsoft Word and / or Office and plan to continue doing so… I would suggest buying an extra copy to keep on hand if you are able to.

One news source is claiming that the news spreading about the court injunction isn’t quite “correct”. It states that Microsoft has to remove the custom XML contained within .docx, .docm, or .xml files. It doesn’t exactly state that they can no longer ever sell Word or Office. Microsoft has already released a statement regarding the ruling. Reportedly, they also apparently circulated an email to their many OEM providers late yesterday. In the email, they stated:

A new supplement for the 2007 Microsoft Office system is required for the United States. After the supplement is installed, Microsoft Office Word will no longer read Custom XML elements…

One thing that bothers me greatly is that Microsoft refers to custom XML as a hardly-used or useful element of Word. Why, then, was it ever included in the first place? This entire situation – the stress on OEM retailers, consumers, and Microsoft themselves – could have been avoided.