It’s commonly believed by folk in the US that the iPhone was utterly new and without precedent. I think it’s because before the iPhone, smartphones weren’t very popular in the US. Things were different elsewhere in the world, though. In 2005, I had a Sony Ericsson P900, a smartphone launched in 2003. I found it in a closet the other day, and I couldn’t find many screen captures of the P900 software online, so I decided I’d take a few snapshots.
Microsoft has announced its new tenets to “promote competition”, so I thought I’d take a look at them. I wasn’t impressed.
1. Installation of any software. Computer manufacturers and customers are free to add any software to PCs that run Windows.
Translation: “Your computer belongs to you, not us.”
Yes, you’re actually allowed to install any software you like on the computer you build or purchase. It’s hard to believe that Microsoft even have to write this down. That they feel it’s some kind of new principle to apply “going forward” is a shocking admission.
AOL patented Instant Messaging. In 1997. It is hence painfully obvious that the US Patent Office either isn’t concerned with prior art, or lacks anybody with any knowledge of computer systems before 1997. I’m not sure which is more depressing.
A while back, Adobe sued Macromedia for patent infringement. Adobe had a software patent on customizable tabbed palettes. Macromedia responded by countersuing Adobe for using some stuff they had patented, including blended colors and visual editing of waveforms. Adobe won their lawsuit, and got a judgement of $2.4m. Bet they thought they were pretty smart, huh? Well today, Macromedia won the countersuit, and got a judgement of $4.9m. Bwahaha. Macromedia’s Fireworks quickly surpassed PhotoShop for creation of web graphics.
Microsoft has announced new licensing terms. It says that from now on, all companies that want to license Windows will have to guarantee not to sue Microsoft for patent violation. In other words, if you want to ship Windows, you have to hand all your patented technologies to Microsoft for free.