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Friday Feedback: Readers on Protecting IP, Microsoft Search and Vista, Vista, Vista

We kick off this week's Friday reader feedback with a message from frequent contributor Robin about Microsoft's pending legal problems in Japan and, more specifically, about how companies should protect their intellectual property from the hungry beast that Redmond can be. Robin has some tips for partners on his Web site, and here's a taste of what he has to say:

"General policy: Focus on the 'what' your product does, rather than the 'how' it does it. Don't be flattered or bullied into over-broad disclosure, even if they say they are talking to the competition. Stick to the business value of your product and how the features support that business value.

"Don't let your engineers talk to their engineers by themselves -- engineers love to brag about how smart they are while encouraging brainstorming on creative ways the larger company could monetize an investment in the product. You may still get screwed, but at least you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you made them work."

Mike, another friend of RCPU, weighed in this week on Microsoft's misguided search efforts. It appears as though Mike really has been reading RCPU:

"A simple question (perhaps) on MS's bid for DoubleClick: If they truly wanted it, why would they merely match Google's offer? If I'm selling anything, a product or a service, I will go with the first of equal bids or to the highest bid. Matching Google's offer basically ensured they wouldn't win the offer. So, now the complicated question: What was their true motivation? If it was to be used as support for their antitrust suit, give them a box of tissues and be done with it. Google kicked their tail on search -- accept it and move on.

"Maybe Microsoft ought to give up the pursuit of world domination -- it didn't work for Genghis Kahn, Napoleon, Hitler or Caesar -- and focus on their core business. They should make sure any new operating systems have value to the consumer as well as businesses (big and small), integrate well with third-party software – including, and perhaps especially, security -- and are genuinely needed. The more Microsoft tries to be all things to all people, the more people will resist. Not to impugn Vista, but most people simply don't need it. I don't want it at home and I work for a company with more than 20,000 employees nationally; Vista isn't a blip on the radar screen. And they've already announced its alleged successor. One sure way to open the door for customers to start considering other alternatives is to keep trying to give them something they don't need or that lacks inherent value. If that's not a red light in Redmond, it sure ought to be."

Speaking of Vista, which we always seem to be doing here, we got a few more e-mails this week that tipped the scale even further toward the negative side of things regarding the new operating system. Theresa writes:

"I cannot recommend Vista to my clients as their third-party line of business applications have not certified their apps to run on Vista. The only hard date I have gotten from any of these vendors is first quarter 2008. I am still dealing with software vendors that are preventing me from upgrading my clients to IE7. Microsoft would do better to spend some effort on seeing why the software vendors are having so much difficulty making their applications work on Vista."

William is becoming fed-up with Microsoft altogether:

"As a former mainframe software specialist and now just a retired end user, my attitude is moving toward giving up on Windows. If I have to buy new hardware, now may be the time to try Apple. The learning curve from XP to Apple can't be that different than from XP to Vista. Microsoft may drive the end user community into Apple's camp."

And Bryan minces no words:

"I had Window 95, 98, 2000 and now XP. Each was a great improvement and I knew that going from what I had to what I was getting made the upgrades well worthwhile. I don't see that now. My copy of XP runs great. The only times I get blue screens (actually my PC just reboots, then explains the error once booted) is when I have a bad piece of hardware. When a piece of software crashes, I can use 'ctrl-alt-del' and get that app closed, then continue with my work.

"I can run for days under heavy load without rebooting. An example of what I'll have as a heavy load might be like this: doing Web design, I'll have Photoshop, FrontPage, Adobe Audition, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera Browser, SnagIt, Windows Media Player, MS Word, Adobe Acrobat and maybe a couple others, sometimes while downloading with Newsbin Pro at a rate of 4.5MBPS. Then, about once a day, I'll close all of them to burn what I've downloaded to a DVD; then open everything back up and continue to work. I reboot maybe twice a week.

"What I'm saying is that I have no reason to upgrade to Vista. I'll hold off until I can't get any support for XP. Even then, I'll look for an alternative to Vista, maybe Linux."

Bryan, you're obviously not alone.

My thanks, as always, goes to everybody who wrote this week. Please keep sending any thoughts you have about anything in the newsletter to lpender@rcpmag.com, and enjoy your weekend.

Oh, and Boston-area readers, please don't forget about our upcoming reader breakfast. This is your chance to see your editor with hair (as the picture on the RCPmag.com Web site is more than a year old -- and possibly the worst ever taken of me). We'll get back to you on a location, but the date is set for June 19. We hope to see you there! As for everybody else, please keep an eye out -- we might just be coming to your town in the future.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 20, 2007 at 11:54 AM