Microsoft to license Office 2007 UI system

22 Nov 2006 - 5:58pm
7 years ago
47 replies
1882 reads
Gabriel White
2005

"Today, we're announcing a licensing program for the 2007 Microsoft
Office system user interface which allows virtually anyone to obtain a
royalty-free license to use the new Office UI in a software product,
including the Ribbon, galleries, the Mini Toolbar, and the rest of the
user interface."

I've never heard of anyone licensing a UI system before (separate from
a software system).

Is there any precedent for this? Can Microsoft actually require
licensing of the UI? Is it enforceable? Is this a good precedent?

>From Jensen Harris' blog:

http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/11/21/licensing-the-2007-microsoft-office-user-interface.aspx

>From the Microsoft press release:

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2006/nov06/11-21officeui.mspx

Comments

22 Nov 2006 - 9:51pm
.pauric
2006

My favorite part.. "You can use the UI in open source projects as long as
the license terms are consistent with our license."

So, essentially what they are saying is this, 'We've created a style guide
that we will allow you to use for your office ad-on. If you agree to the
license then you will test your design against our standards (or else?). And
we will never charge you for expanding our suite'

I feel they should just open source it. They might get a much broader take
up with more or less the same conformance to their standards, maybe even
some improvements.

On 11/22/06, Gabriel White <gabrielwhite at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> "Today, we're announcing a licensing program for the 2007 Microsoft
> Office system user interface which allows virtually anyone to obtain a
> royalty-free license to use the new Office UI in a software product,
> including the Ribbon, galleries, the Mini Toolbar, and the rest of the
> user interface."
>
> I've never heard of anyone licensing a UI system before (separate from
> a software system).
>
> Is there any precedent for this? Can Microsoft actually require
> licensing of the UI? Is it enforceable? Is this a good precedent?
>
> >From Jensen Harris' blog:
>
>
> http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/11/21/licensing-the-2007-microsoft-office-user-interface.aspx
>
> >From the Microsoft press release:
>
> http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2006/nov06/11-21officeui.mspx
>
>

22 Nov 2006 - 10:30pm
Navneet Nair
2004

This is interesting as many of the MS UI paradigms were aped by a number of
applications, thus giving the UI more eyeballs and making MS applications
seemingly intuitive. With a big shift in paradigm from Microsoft's end
(ribbons) I think they might feel that users will find it difficult to adapt
to the new UI, so this is probably a way to evangelize the new UI. That's my
reading of this announcement...

I personally have not used the ribbon interface yet, so I can't comment on
the merits and demerits yet, but maybe some of you can...

Cheers
Navneet

--
----------------------------------------------------
Navneet Nair
Interaction Architect
onClipEvent: form follows function();
----------------------------------------------------
Website: http://www.onclipevent.com
Blog: http://www.onclipevent.com/enterframe/

22 Nov 2006 - 11:03pm
.pauric
2006

I agree, MS want to improve the UI by encouraging designers to follow a
common style guide for office applications. However, the general feeling I
have is this will end up looking less like evangelism and more like
enforcement.

Vista has the ability to enter a reduced functionality mode if any part of
the system feels it isnt properly licenced. They're on record saying "Cori
Hartje, director of Microsoft's Genuine Software Initiative, made it clear
that Microsoft intends to use this technology in additional Microsoft
products at a later time."
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061004-7898.html

Here's what might end up happening... If you use ribbons then you've got to
do it the MS way or you break the 'licence'. Then your app potentially gets
locked out of the party. Who needs software patents.

Maybe I'm being too paranoid, then again MS thinks DRM is a good way to lock
in users.

On 11/22/06, Navneet Nair <navneet.nair at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> This is interesting as many of the MS UI paradigms were aped by a number
> of
> applications, thus giving the UI more eyeballs and making MS applications
> seemingly intuitive. With a big shift in paradigm from Microsoft's end
> (ribbons) I think they might feel that users will find it difficult to
> adapt
> to the new UI, so this is probably a way to evangelize the new UI. That's
> my
> reading of this announcement...
>
> I personally have not used the ribbon interface yet, so I can't comment on
> the merits and demerits yet, but maybe some of you can...
>
> Cheers
> Navneet

23 Nov 2006 - 4:56am
jdwelch
2006

On Nov 22, 2006, at 20:03 PM, pauric wrote:

> I agree, MS want to improve the UI by encouraging designers to
> follow a
> common style guide for office applications. However, the general
> feeling I
> have is this will end up looking less like evangelism and more like
> enforcement.

I feel the same. From a cursory look, it sounds great; they certainly
did spend a ton of money and time on it, and RibbonX is one of the
few truly interesting UX solutions I've seen out of them ever. But...

> Here's what might end up happening... If you use ribbons then
> you've got to
> do it the MS way or you break the 'licence'. Then your app
> potentially gets
> locked out of the party. Who needs software patents.

That's _exactly_ what I see happening. Here it is, right in the
license: "Your Licensed UI must comply with the Design Guidelines.
If Microsoft notifies you that the Design Guidelines have been
updated or that you are not complying with the Design Guidelines, you
will make the necessary changes to comply as soon as you reasonably
can, but no later than your next product release that is 6 months or
more from the date you receive notice.[0]"

The most ridiculous part, though, is that they're really offering
nothing particularly useful, only the right to reserve judgement and
dictate terms. All you're licensing is the privilege to mimic the
UI-- they aren't providing any SDKs or other resources to actually
implement it: "The program does not involve code or technical
specifications and there are no protocols or file formats either[1]"

So, if you enter into the license you get to write, test and maintain
everything yourself _and_ have to be willing to change it at their
whim. Fantastic. You're right about patents: why bother when you can
get people to volunteer to do what you say!

> Maybe I'm being too paranoid, then again MS thinks DRM is a good
> way to lock
> in users.

It's not paranoid; it's right there if you look beyond the surface
cheerleading and posturing that they're doing such a great thing. The
phrase "benevolent dictator" comes to mind.

-jd

[0] = http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?
familyid=e2ddd3fb-8635-4d54-8730-102b75c31db6&displaylang=en
[1] = http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/office/aa973809.aspx

J.D. Welch
visual communication & user interface designer
e: jaydwelch/at/gmail.com aim&gtalk: jaydwelch
http://www.jdwelch.net/

24 Nov 2006 - 8:08am
Todd Warfel
2003

Creating usability by traction.

On Nov 22, 2006, at 10:30 PM, Navneet Nair wrote:

> I think they might feel that users will find it difficult to adapt
> to the new UI, so this is probably a way to evangelize the new UI.
> That's my
> reading of this announcement...

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

26 Nov 2006 - 3:56am
pabini
2004

Gabriel White quoted Microsoft as saying: "Today, we're announcing a
licensing program for the 2007 Microsoft Office system user interface which
allows virtually anyone to obtain a royalty-free license to use the new
Office UI in a software product...."

After reading " Licensing the 2007 Microsoft Office User Interface" and
watching the Channel 9 video about the Office 2007 UI License, it's apparent
that this statement stretches the truth.

This quotation from the announcement is much more telling: " There's only
one limitation: if you are building a program which directly competes with
Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Access (the Microsoft applications with
the new UI), you can't obtain the royalty-free license."

So that excludes *most* classes of productivity applications.

In the video, Jensen Harris stated "...we envisioned the Office UI as the
next thing beyond menus and toolbars. ... But menus and toolbars are
ubiquitous. Every program has menus today. So we thought it was important
that we could attain that same level of ubiqitousness with the ribbon and
galleries."

Menus and toolbars are part of the Windows OS. That considered, if Microsoft
were truly being generous, the new features that replace menus and toolbars
would also be part of the OS. However, if they were part of the OS,
applications that compete with Office applications would be able to adopt or
even improve upon the Office UI, and Microsoft won't permit that. The
announcement also stated: "Included with the license you'll find the 2007
Microsoft Office System User Interface Guidelines. ... To stay within the
terms of the license, you must follow these guidelines."

Harris's remarks make it clear that Microsoft wants other software
development firms to use the new Office UI. Otherwise, Office applications
will be perceived as non-standard by users, and they may resist the changes.
However, if other software development firms do adopt the Office UI, they
will place all firms whose products compete directly with Office
applications at a tremendous competitive disadvantage. In effect, they
wouldn't be able to develop their applications using the standard UI for
Windows applications.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

27 Nov 2006 - 4:52am
mprove
2004

Can anyone explain to me (rhetorical question) why UI concepts that are around for about 10 years are subject to a MS license?

Kai Krause, Phil Clevenger and team created such an interface for Bryce 2 in 1996:
http://www.mprove.de/script/99/kai/zoom/Fig5Bryce.html

Create, Edit and Sky&Fog correspond with the contextual tabs in MS's UI; below is a shelf with tools for the specific editing context.

so what?
Matthias

--

User Experience and Interaction Design :: http://www.mprove.de

27 Nov 2006 - 9:24am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 27, 2006, at 4:52 AM, Matthias Mueller-Prove wrote:

> Can anyone explain to me (rhetorical question) why UI concepts that
> are around for about 10 years are subject to a MS license?

In war, the victors write the license agreements...

Jared

27 Nov 2006 - 1:04pm
Jeff Axup
2006

Hi all,

Maybe I'm missing something, but I was under the impression that UI
features (e.g. widgets and look and feel) can't be patented and aren't
subject to copyright. MS might be able to require licences to interact
with their system or use an SDK, but I'm pretty sure we're all free to
create look-alike widgets in say AJAX and use them as we like. Amazon
patented the one-click ordering feature, but I believe that was more
about the underlying ordering system, which probably falls under a
work-process patent? Do we know any software patent attorneys we can
query?

-Jeff

____________________________________________________________________________
Jeff Axup Ph.D. Candidate - University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Principal Consultant, Mobile Community Design Consulting
Currently based in Washington, USA

Research: Mobile Group Research Methods, Social Networks, Group Usability
E-mail: axup <at> userdesign.com
Blog: http://mobilecommunitydesign.com
Moblog: http://memeaddict.blogspot.com
Academic: http://www.infenv.itee.uq.edu.au
____________________________________________________________________________

On 11/27/06, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>
> On Nov 27, 2006, at 4:52 AM, Matthias Mueller-Prove wrote:
>
> > Can anyone explain to me (rhetorical question) why UI concepts that
> > are around for about 10 years are subject to a MS license?
>
> In war, the victors write the license agreements...
>
> Jared
> ________________________________________________________________
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27 Nov 2006 - 2:09pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Nov 27, 2006, at 10:04 AM, Jeff Axup wrote:

> Maybe I'm missing something, but I was under the impression that UI
> features (e.g. widgets and look and feel) can't be patented and aren't
> subject to copyright.

As I understand it (in the US), style (look and feel) isn't
patentable or copyrightable, unless someone is trying to make
consumers think the product's source is from elsewhere (e.g. making a
fake Mickey Mouse doll), in which case there is legal protection.

Widgets, however, as long as they meet the patent criteria of
"useful, novel, and non-obvious" are patentable. Novel and non-
obvious are the tricky ones. Over the years, there have been patents
on everything from drop-down menus to all application on the
internet. Seriously:

http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?
articleID=180206472&cid=RSSfeed_IWK_News

Dan

27 Nov 2006 - 1:42pm
dmitryn
2004

Because MS spent over three years reinventing these concepts and wants
a return on their investment?

Dmitry

On 11/27/06, Matthias Mueller-Prove <mprove at acm.org> wrote:
> Can anyone explain to me (rhetorical question) why UI concepts that are around for about 10 years are subject to a MS license?
>
> Kai Krause, Phil Clevenger and team created such an interface for Bryce 2 in 1996:
> http://www.mprove.de/script/99/kai/zoom/Fig5Bryce.html
>
> Create, Edit and Sky&Fog correspond with the contextual tabs in MS's UI; below is a shelf with tools for the specific editing context.
>
> so what?
> Matthias
>
> --
>
> User Experience and Interaction Design :: http://www.mprove.de
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>

27 Nov 2006 - 2:43pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Jeff,
UI concepts are IP and can be protected. It just rarley happens.

A great example of this is the UI patent wars between Macromedia and Adobe
earlier this decade.

Yes, the irony is just deadly.

The concepts were related to their use of palettes, tabs and accordians
which are on the right side of most of their tools.

I think Adobe figured out a simple way to solve the roblem.

Dave

27 Nov 2006 - 2:01pm
Peter Bagnall
2003

I think you're correct here, and what's more, I think the Amazon
patent only applied in the US. Does anybody know for sure?

There is an effort here in Europe to prevent software from being
patentable, which has got a fair amount of support, although perhaps
not enough to succeed. So at least over here I think MS are just
trying it on. I can't see why, if you implement look alike widgets,
you'd have anything to fear on this side of the pond. Of course I'm
not a lawyer, so if there are any out there who know better I would
be interested to hear what they make of the situation.

But then the whole patent system is now well into double think, it is
preventing the very think it was created to promote - innovation, at
least in our sector.

Cheers
--Pete

On 27 Nov 2006, at 18:04, Jeff Axup wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> Maybe I'm missing something, but I was under the impression that UI
> features (e.g. widgets and look and feel) can't be patented and aren't
> subject to copyright. MS might be able to require licences to interact
> with their system or use an SDK, but I'm pretty sure we're all free to
> create look-alike widgets in say AJAX and use them as we like. Amazon
> patented the one-click ordering feature, but I believe that was more
> about the underlying ordering system, which probably falls under a
> work-process patent? Do we know any software patent attorneys we can
> query?
>
> -Jeff
>
> ______________________________________________________________________
> ______
> Jeff Axup Ph.D. Candidate - University of Queensland,
> Brisbane, Australia
> Principal Consultant, Mobile Community Design
> Consulting
> Currently based in Washington, USA
>
> Research: Mobile Group Research Methods, Social Networks, Group
> Usability
> E-mail: axup <at> userdesign.com
> Blog: http://mobilecommunitydesign.com
> Moblog: http://memeaddict.blogspot.com
> Academic: http://www.infenv.itee.uq.edu.au
> ______________________________________________________________________
> ______
>
>
>
> On 11/27/06, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>>
>> On Nov 27, 2006, at 4:52 AM, Matthias Mueller-Prove wrote:
>>
>>> Can anyone explain to me (rhetorical question) why UI concepts that
>>> are around for about 10 years are subject to a MS license?
>>
>> In war, the victors write the license agreements...
>>
>> Jared
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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>

----------------------------------------------------------
The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to
the individual the burden of pursing his own education. This
will not be a widely shared pursuit until we get over our odd
conviction that education is what goes on in school buildings
and nowhere else.
- John W. Gardner, 1912 - 2002

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

27 Nov 2006 - 3:34pm
John Schrag
2005

Jeff wrote:
> Maybe I'm missing something, but I was under the impression that
> UI features (e.g. widgets and look and feel) can't be patented and
> aren't subject to copyright. MS might be able to require licences
> to interact with their system or use an SDK, but I'm pretty sure
> we're all free to create look-alike widgets in say AJAX and use them
> as we like.

Novel and non-obvious UI interactions are absolutely patentable. Both
my previous employer (Alias) and my current employer (Autodesk)
aggressively patent their best ideas, and I've been involved twice in
the patent process, including dealing with the lawyers. It's a bizarre,
slow, and expensive process, so many small shops don't bother with it.
Often it's not the whole widget design that is patented, but rather some
particular aspect or combination of aspects of a widget. You really
need to read a patent carefully to determine exactly what it covers, and
it's often not what you'd think.

Other aspects of your UI, such as graphics or artistic elements, are not
protected by patent law but can be protected by copyright law. Unlike
patents, copyright is automatically granted to the creator of a work (or
the person who hired them). Copyright allows you to control who makes
duplicates of the work, how it is distributed, whether derivative works
may be made from it, and other aspects more related to performance (for
things like music and movies).

-john schrag
patents pending

28 Nov 2006 - 11:04am
.pauric
2006

While Dan's statement is true "useful, novel, and non-obvious", another way
of looking at what can and cannot be patented is thinking about prior art.
(Copyright is a completely different ballgame)

Someone can patent a fragment of the human genome because they were the
first to discover a use for it and write that down.
http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/patents.shtml

I was recently unable to patent a "useful, novel, and non-obvious" method of
displaying and configuring Ethernet traffic, our lawyer was able to draw
some correlation between my widget design and traffic lights even though the
two a unrelated.

However, and this is the part I still cant get my head around, when I was a
chip designer I was able to get a patent for a very similar concept because
the lawyer manged to word the concept in such a way that it avoided too much
prior work while still being useful, novel, and non-obvious.
http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6256318.PN.&OS=PN/6256318&RS=PN/6256318

One final point. Avoid thinking about software/widgets/colours/flow or any
such compartmental structure. The linked patent is an ASIC design, on a
chip, written in a software language Verilog and drives both a web interface
widget and physical UI LED. I'm not sure how you can avoid 'software
patents' without a fundamental re-write of the law.

I would imagine that MS are unable to patent the Office UI and this licence
agreement is an alternative method to achieve the same result. Instead of
legally forcing you to stop infringing on their hard work they simply flick
a switch and shut your app down.

Jeff raises a -very- interesting point "I'm pretty sure we're all free to
create look-alike widgets in say AJAX" MS have market share in both OS and
Browser. Once Google have their act together on security for their offering
and start taking share, what's to stop MS applying this stance within the
browser? Just throwing this out there, I know it sounds ridiculous, but
stranger things have happened at sea.

regards-pauric

On 11/27/06, Jeff Axup <axup at userdesign.com> wrote:
>
> Hi all,
>
> Maybe I'm missing something, but I was under the impression that UI
> features (e.g. widgets and look and feel) can't be patented and aren't
> subject to copyright. MS might be able to require licences to interact
> with their system or use an SDK, but I'm pretty sure we're all free to
> create look-alike widgets in say AJAX and use them as we like. Amazon
> patented the one-click ordering feature, but I believe that was more
> about the underlying ordering system, which probably falls under a
> work-process patent? Do we know any software patent attorneys we can
> query?
>
> -Jeff
>
>
> ____________________________________________________________________________
> Jeff Axup Ph.D. Candidate - University of Queensland, Brisbane,
> Australia
> Principal Consultant, Mobile Community Design
> Consulting
> Currently based in Washington, USA
>
> Research: Mobile Group Research Methods, Social Networks, Group
> Usability
> E-mail: axup <at> userdesign.com
> Blog: http://mobilecommunitydesign.com
> Moblog: http://memeaddict.blogspot.com
> Academic: http://www.infenv.itee.uq.edu.au
>
> ____________________________________________________________________________
>
>
>
> On 11/27/06, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
> >
> > On Nov 27, 2006, at 4:52 AM, Matthias Mueller-Prove wrote:
> >
> > > Can anyone explain to me (rhetorical question) why UI concepts that
> > > are around for about 10 years are subject to a MS license?
> >
> > In war, the victors write the license agreements...
> >
> > Jared
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

28 Nov 2006 - 11:21am
ldebett
2004

One bit of irony in the design world relating to "useful, novel, and
non-obvious": I've found a lot of times that once one designs something to
solve a particularly difficult (or even simple) problem in a creative way,
it often is perceived as being a very obvious solution!

~Lisa

28 Nov 2006 - 11:23am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 28, 2006, at 11:04 AM, pauric wrote:

> I would imagine that MS are unable to patent the Office UI and this
> licence
> agreement is an alternative method to achieve the same result.
> Instead of
> legally forcing you to stop infringing on their hard work they
> simply flick
> a switch and shut your app down.

I don't believe this is correct.

MS could patent & copyright the UI components if they choose.

However, MS is supported by partners who create applications that
work on the Office platform. They want to give those partners as much
power as possible to create applications that help sell Office.

By licensing the UI components (and not protecting it thru
restrictive patents and copyrights), they allow their third-party
application support to flourish.

At least, that's the concept.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

28 Nov 2006 - 11:33am
Jeff Axup
2006

I thank everyone who's pitched in on this topic - I'm certainly learning
some things.
To follow up on this rather difficult issue:

When I was in Australia (they have subtly different IP law there I
understand) I attended a few classes on IP, and also tried to commercialize
some research I was working on. The commercialization group said:

- "you can't patent ideas"
- My designs were not patentable because they did not have an algorithm,
business process, or highly refined hardware design as a component of the
work
- Thus any "IP" that existed in the designs was not actually defensible in a
court, and thus not worth pursuing in a practical sense.
- I did own copyright over the product documentation and visual designs
relating to the ideas, but the underlying product concept could be copied by
anyone who read the material.

So, even though I had a highly novel product concept, very simple
prototypes, and a business model of sorts, they didn't think they wanted to
go ahead with commercialization.

My conclusion from this at the time was that patenting a design concept
would be very difficult unless you had a refined hardware concept (for a
design patent), an underlying and unique algorithm assisting your UI widget
(algorithm patent), or a complex system of managing information related to
the widget/UI (business patent). I also concluded that sometimes when you
have a good product idea you should just run with it and get it into the
market while other people wait for patents to come through (the US is first
to invent right?).

Cheers,
Jeff

On 11/28/06, pauric <radiorental at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> While Dan's statement is true "useful, novel, and non-obvious", another
> way
> of looking at what can and cannot be patented is thinking about prior art.
> (Copyright is a completely different ballgame)
>
> Someone can patent a fragment of the human genome because they were the
> first to discover a use for it and write that down.
> http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/patents.shtml
>
> I was recently unable to patent a "useful, novel, and non-obvious" method
> of
> displaying and configuring Ethernet traffic, our lawyer was able to draw
> some correlation between my widget design and traffic lights even though
> the
> two a unrelated.
>
> However, and this is the part I still cant get my head around, when I was
> a
> chip designer I was able to get a patent for a very similar concept
> because
> the lawyer manged to word the concept in such a way that it avoided too
> much
> prior work while still being useful, novel, and non-obvious.
>
> http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6256318.PN.&OS=PN/6256318&RS=PN/6256318
>
> One final point. Avoid thinking about software/widgets/colours/flow or
> any
> such compartmental structure. The linked patent is an ASIC design, on a
> chip, written in a software language Verilog and drives both a web
> interface
> widget and physical UI LED. I'm not sure how you can avoid 'software
> patents' without a fundamental re-write of the law.
>
> I would imagine that MS are unable to patent the Office UI and this
> licence
> agreement is an alternative method to achieve the same result. Instead of
> legally forcing you to stop infringing on their hard work they simply
> flick
> a switch and shut your app down.
>
> Jeff raises a -very- interesting point "I'm pretty sure we're all free to
> create look-alike widgets in say AJAX" MS have market share in both OS
> and
> Browser. Once Google have their act together on security for their
> offering
> and start taking share, what's to stop MS applying this stance within the
> browser? Just throwing this out there, I know it sounds ridiculous, but
> stranger things have happened at sea.
>
> regards-pauric
>
> On 11/27/06, Jeff Axup <axup at userdesign.com> wrote:
> >
> > Hi all,
> >
> > Maybe I'm missing something, but I was under the impression that UI
> > features (e.g. widgets and look and feel) can't be patented and aren't
> > subject to copyright. MS might be able to require licences to interact
> > with their system or use an SDK, but I'm pretty sure we're all free to
> > create look-alike widgets in say AJAX and use them as we like. Amazon
> > patented the one-click ordering feature, but I believe that was more
> > about the underlying ordering system, which probably falls under a
> > work-process patent? Do we know any software patent attorneys we can
> > query?
> >
> > -Jeff
> >
> >
> >
> ____________________________________________________________________________
> > Jeff Axup Ph.D. Candidate - University of Queensland, Brisbane,
> > Australia
> > Principal Consultant, Mobile Community Design
> > Consulting
> > Currently based in Washington, USA
> >
> > Research: Mobile Group Research Methods, Social Networks, Group
> > Usability
> > E-mail: axup <at> userdesign.com
> > Blog: http://mobilecommunitydesign.com
> > Moblog: http://memeaddict.blogspot.com
> > Academic: http://www.infenv.itee.uq.edu.au
> >
> >
> ____________________________________________________________________________
> >
> >
> >
> > On 11/27/06, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
> > >
> > > On Nov 27, 2006, at 4:52 AM, Matthias Mueller-Prove wrote:
> > >
> > > > Can anyone explain to me (rhetorical question) why UI concepts that
> > > > are around for about 10 years are subject to a MS license?
> > >
> > > In war, the victors write the license agreements...
> > >
> > > Jared
> > > ________________________________________________________________
> > > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> > >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
Best Regards,
Jeff
____________________________________________________________________________
Jeff Axup Ph.D. Candidate - University of Queensland, Brisbane,
Australia
Principal Consultant, Mobile Community Design Consulting
Currently based in Washington, USA

Research: Mobile Group Research Methods, Social Networks, Group Usability
E-mail: axup <at> userdesign.com
Blog: http://mobilecommunitydesign.com
Moblog: http://memeaddict.blogspot.com
Academic: http://www.infenv.itee.uq.edu.au
____________________________________________________________________________

28 Nov 2006 - 12:08pm
.pauric
2006

Interesting Jared, where do you see the patentable sections of the
interface?
Here's an overview of the new office UI
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/HA101679411033.aspx

When I look at the Ribbon for example,
http://office.microsoft.com/search/redir.aspx?AssetID=ES101696951033&CTT=5&Origin=HA101679411033
All I see is 7 high level groups and the menu items put in to panels with
icons, instead of the old drop down lists.

I would find it very hard to believe that MS would pass up an opportunity to
patent any of this. This may all be moot, maybe they have patented some of
this work. Patents are more often used as bargaining chips when conflicts
arise and large corps collect them for rainy days. Either way, patenting
any of this is irrelevent, just because you hold a patent does not mean you
are forced to sue. Its the licence thats interesting.

To your point about MS partnership. "By licensing the UI components (and
not protecting it thru
restrictive patents and copyrights), they allow their third-party
application support to flourish."

My reading of this licence makes me think it is more of a strategic play in
advance of the Office wars. Why even bother telling anyone outside of your
partners about this? There is a lot of curious wording in both the
announcement and licence. MS is on the offensive against both Google and
the Open Source business model

"Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft and Novell are supposed to work
together on interoperability and patents, such as its inter-office suite
(Office to OpenOffice)."
http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/3641851

And Balmer has said anyone in the open source community who is not protected
by the licence may be sued, or have office chairs flung at them. Again,
maybe I'm being paranoid but MS have a long track record of this divide and
conquer approach to the competition.

On 11/28/06, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>
> I don't believe this is correct.
>
> MS could patent & copyright the UI components if they choose.
>
> However, MS is supported by partners who create applications that
> work on the Office platform. They want to give those partners as much
> power as possible to create applications that help sell Office.
>
> By licensing the UI components (and not protecting it thru
> restrictive patents and copyrights), they allow their third-party
> application support to flourish.
>
> At least, that's the concept.
>
> Jared
>
>

28 Nov 2006 - 12:24pm
Todd Warfel
2003

All you see is 7 high level groups and the menu... At first glance I
see "Wooooo. What happened here?"

Whereas web-based apps are starting to look and perform more and more
like desktop applications, this is going the other direction - a
desktop app looking like and operating like a web-app. It's just
another case of MS throwing everything including the Kitchen sink at
the display.

Just because you have more pixels doesn't mean you should use them.

When will they learn?

On Nov 28, 2006, at 12:08 PM, pauric wrote:

> When I look at the Ribbon for example,
> http://office.microsoft.com/search/redir.aspx?
> AssetID=ES101696951033&CTT=5&Origin=HA101679411033
> All I see is 7 high level groups and the menu items put in to
> panels with
> icons, instead of the old drop down lists.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

28 Nov 2006 - 12:39pm
Todd Warfel
2003

One of the biggest issues I see with this paradigm is that MS is
taking up additional vertical space on the screen. Screens are
increasing in size, yes. However, these palettes, or ribbons, seem to
be more appropriate at the sides of the screen than at the top.

At the top, they look crowded and overbearing. They eat up vertical
space, which we use to read documents we're working on. The documents
scroll vertically, not horizontally. So, now you're eating up real
estate that should be used for the document I'm working on - you're
impeding on my workspace. Why not put them to the side where they
don't eat into my work area of the document I'm working on?

I assume I can move them, but if this is the default model, which
I've only seen on MS Office for Win, then it's a bad model.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

28 Nov 2006 - 1:55pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 28, 2006, at 12:08 PM, pauric wrote:

> I would find it very hard to believe that MS would pass up an
> opportunity to
> patent any of this. This may all be moot, maybe they have patented
> some of
> this work. Patents are more often used as bargaining chips when
> conflicts
> arise and large corps collect them for rainy days. Either way,
> patenting
> any of this is irrelevent, just because you hold a patent does not
> mean you
> are forced to sue. Its the licence thats interesting.

Microsoft has had some not-so-good-history with UI patents (in
particular, they ended up in a suit with Apple years back). I'm
betting they've chosen not to patent it on philosophical reasons. As
I said earlier, they want to make things easy for their third-party
app developers to make an experience that looks seamless (and gets
lock-in) with the Office suite. Holding patents (even if you claim
you'll never sue, as they've done with Novell) sends a message to
partners that MS probably doesn't want to send.

Jared

28 Nov 2006 - 3:06pm
.pauric
2006

I'm not sure I see the correlation between Apple loosing a suit against MS
and whether or not MS would choose to patent a UI feature or not. If
anything I would see a history UI infringement battles as strengthening the
case to patent their work in case of future woes. I'll restate that I think
any patent on Office07 is irrelevant anyway. This licence is far stronger.

I would be skating on thin ice to categorically state they have nothing to
patent, that said I cant find anything. If you have any insight on this I
am very interested to see something in Office07 that is novel, unique with
no prior art.
As Lisa pointed out, the key to a UI patent is a really simple idea that no
one has thought of before. Thats very hard to produce at a practical level
these days. Once you have a complex system then its easy to find prior art
building blocks within the UI.

Also, holding patents does not send messages. Firstly, patent applications
are not broadcast in the sense of the 900lb gorilla marking its territory,
however they are discoverable if you know what to look for. The licencing
agreement would make a patent null and void by protecting the partner.
Again, only patent trolls are in the business of making money on patents,
companies such as MS keep them in a war chest. -If- MS could patent any of
their work in Office07, I maintain they would do so as a matter of
precaution in case they got in to a battle with someone outside their
licence agreement at a later date.

MS plays dirty, plain and simple, to propose they might be taking a
philosophical high ground and pass up an opportunity that is standard
practice in corporate warfare is a stretch.

Kind regards - pauric

28 Nov 2006 - 7:04pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 28, 2006, at 3:06 PM, pauric wrote:

> MS plays dirty, plain and simple, to propose they might be taking a
> philosophical high ground and pass up an opportunity that is standard
> practice in corporate warfare is a stretch.

As much as I'm not generally a fan of MS practices, I'd say this
generalization is unfair. MS has always demonstrated they will go to
great lengths to court and protect third-party partners*, which is
exactly what this program is about.

* Well, until they want to enter into that market themselves, then
they become aggressive. But, for most of their partner businesses,
they don't wish to compete, but to live in a symbiotic relationship.

Jared

28 Nov 2006 - 8:27pm
.pauric
2006

Sorry Jared, I should have been more clear. Naturally as a business you
want to have a reputation as a company that goes about its business in a
reputable manner. I'm not suggesting they would use any dirty tricks against
a business partner. I was referring to the competition and the combination
of recent news

UI Licence: You must sign up to the licence if you want to build an
office-like app*
Vista: We reserve the right to reduce functionality
Novell: We may sue those in the open source community who reuse code thats
been through Novell

I'm not an MS hater, all is fair in love and war. However I cant help but
feel that Microsoft must be concerned about protecting its cash cow, Office,
any which way it can from the various alternatives currently maturing.

*I still dont get this, say I wanted to build a groupware app that could
sync with office. Why would I hand the look and feel over to MS? To those
that say it benefits the overall UX, 2 things

1)Surely it is not good practice to define the look and feel first then
shoehorn in the application/functionality afterward?
2)It assumes that MS have completely dialed in the design. While it does
look great.. there is always room for improvement and that is clearly not
part of the agreement once you sign up.

On 11/28/06, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>
>
> On Nov 28, 2006, at 3:06 PM, pauric wrote:
>
> > MS plays dirty, plain and simple, to propose they might be taking a
> > philosophical high ground and pass up an opportunity that is standard
> > practice in corporate warfare is a stretch.
>
> As much as I'm not generally a fan of MS practices, I'd say this
> generalization is unfair. MS has always demonstrated they will go to
> great lengths to court and protect third-party partners*, which is
> exactly what this program is about.
>
> * Well, until they want to enter into that market themselves, then
> they become aggressive. But, for most of their partner businesses,
> they don't wish to compete, but to live in a symbiotic relationship.
>
> Jared
>

28 Nov 2006 - 6:36am
Cameron Grant
2006

It's inevitable that ISVs, component vendors, and corporate developers will
attempt to replicate the Office UI, and do so poorly. MS wants to improve
the quality of UX on Windows across the board, and so with the license
scheme they are saying, "Use our designs, but pay attention to the details."

Some ISVs, and component vendors in particular will leap at any opportunity
to appear affiliated with MS. They'll sign up and abide by the license, with
the net result being higher-quality UI in applications that MS wouldn't
ordinarily have much influence over.

-Cameron

> I said earlier, they want to make things easy for their third-party
> app developers to make an experience that looks seamless (and gets
> lock-in) with the Office suite

> Jared

29 Nov 2006 - 9:27am
DrWex
2006

On 11/28/06, pauric <radiorental at gmail.com> wrote:
> I am very interested to see something in Office07 that is novel, unique with
> no prior art.

This is the naive view of patentability. It bears no relationship to
how patenting actually happens. What we, as skilled practitioners of
the art, might find novel or patentable simply isn't relevant.
Forgive me as I rant a bit:

- patent examiners are not skilled in the art. At best they're
generally familiar with computers and software.
- patent applicants are not required to disclose prior art. OK,
technically they should but ignorance is bliss. If you fail to
disclose then it's on the examiner to find prior art and if he does
find some all that happens is you need to resubmit. There's no
penalty for - let's be frank - lying by omission.
- software patents have PATHETIC levels of prior art reference. If
you doubt this, do just a few seconds of searching on the USPTO site.
Go ahead, it's public on the web at
http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html

In fact, let's do just that. I searched for patents issued to
Microsoft and picked one at random (closed my eyes and clicked on a
link from 50 numbered results). I came up with patent #7,143,131,
issued to Microsoft just yesterday. This is a patent on an extension
to TCP. (You know, TCP/IP, the protocol that's been around since the
1980s at least? It underlies most 'net communications not least of
which is HTTP.)

Scrolling down to the "prior art" section I find 12 prior art patents,
the earliest of which is 1998. Show of hands, now: how many of you
believe that there have been NO patents on extending TCP prior to
1998? And no publications? That's right, folks, what Microsoft is
claiming here is that they don't know of ANY research literature on
TCP other than patents. Not one research paper, conference
publication, book, you name it.

And this is an ISSUED patent. I rest my case.

(In case you think this is a fluke or unusual situation, I invite you
to replicate this experiment yourself. Don't think Microsoft is
unusual in this practice - they learned fast from daddies and
granddaddies like HP and IBM whose own patenting practices are equally
reprehensible. OK, we can debate whether "taking maximum advantage of
the rules of play" is reprehensible; what's not up for debate is the
craptacular state of software patenting.)

29 Nov 2006 - 9:56am
.pauric
2006

Naive might be a bit strong, I have been through the patent process more
than once (o;

What you are saying is very true, let me explain my experience of patents.
The company I work for has a history of technical innovation but after 2000
we took a more diligent approach to investing in applications. You are
right to state that its possible to send an application in without doing
your homework. But when it comes to crunch time patents have been known to
be not worth the paper they're written on.

One way to evaluate whether you have a useful, novel, and non-obvious idea
on your hands is to distill the idea down to its basic elements and look for
prior art. This is at least what we do and as far as I'm aware we have a
good track record in defending our IP.

You rightly point out the patenting process is open for abuse, however, I
felt the conversation was about whether MS could have derived strong patents
from Office07 if they wanted to. Jared is saying that they chose not to in
favour of a proactive 'join us, we'll help you' approach. I took the more
cynical view that the licence could prove to be a more efficient weapon
against competitors. In the end its probably a combination of both. And as
you point out, patents dont really mean much, whether you have a naive view
of them or not.

As a side note, part of the fault are internal systems that encourage
frivolous applications with rewards for both developers to generate as many
as possible and of course legal fees to process the application, coupled
with an overwhelmed uspto.

kind regards - pauric

On 11/29/06, Alan Wexelblat <awexelblat at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> On 11/28/06, pauric <radiorental at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I am very interested to see something in Office07 that is novel, unique
> with
> > no prior art.
>
> This is the naive view of patentability. It bears no relationship to
> how patenting actually happens. What we, as skilled practitioners of
> the art, might find novel or patentable simply isn't relevant.
> Forgive me as I rant a bit:
>
> - patent examiners are not skilled in the art. At best they're
> generally familiar with computers and software.
> - patent applicants are not required to disclose prior art. OK,
> technically they should but ignorance is bliss. If you fail to
> disclose then it's on the examiner to find prior art and if he does
> find some all that happens is you need to resubmit. There's no
> penalty for - let's be frank - lying by omission.
> - software patents have PATHETIC levels of prior art reference. If
> you doubt this, do just a few seconds of searching on the USPTO site.
> Go ahead, it's public on the web at
> http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html
>
> In fact, let's do just that. I searched for patents issued to
> Microsoft and picked one at random (closed my eyes and clicked on a
> link from 50 numbered results). I came up with patent #7,143,131,
> issued to Microsoft just yesterday. This is a patent on an extension
> to TCP. (You know, TCP/IP, the protocol that's been around since the
> 1980s at least? It underlies most 'net communications not least of
> which is HTTP.)
>
> Scrolling down to the "prior art" section I find 12 prior art patents,
> the earliest of which is 1998. Show of hands, now: how many of you
> believe that there have been NO patents on extending TCP prior to
> 1998? And no publications? That's right, folks, what Microsoft is
> claiming here is that they don't know of ANY research literature on
> TCP other than patents. Not one research paper, conference
> publication, book, you name it.
>
> And this is an ISSUED patent. I rest my case.
>
> (In case you think this is a fluke or unusual situation, I invite you
> to replicate this experiment yourself. Don't think Microsoft is
> unusual in this practice - they learned fast from daddies and
> granddaddies like HP and IBM whose own patenting practices are equally
> reprehensible. OK, we can debate whether "taking maximum advantage of
> the rules of play" is reprehensible; what's not up for debate is the
> craptacular state of software patenting.)
>

29 Nov 2006 - 3:26pm
DrWex
2006

You're right, I did use overly strong language in my rant, and I'm
sorry. It wasn't intended personally. I think Jared's comment is
naive and that you're right, the license is far straonger than patents
are/would be. My point was that whether or not MSFT patented in
anything in Office 2007 has little or nothing to do with whether you
or I can come up with what we'd consider relevant prior art.

29 Nov 2006 - 3:39pm
.pauric
2006

No need to apologise! what is the Internet without a good ol' rant from time
to time (o;

Its interesting to note that patenting is more the domain of lawyers keeping
themselves in the style that they have become accustomed to than protecting
technical innovation

Office hits patent issues in South Korea;
"A Microsoft lawyer said that—despite the court's ruling—the patents would
eventually be invalidated. "We recently found critical evidence that will
disprove the effects of the language-switch technology patents and we will
file another lawsuit to ask for nullification of the patents,""
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061127-8297.html

On 11/29/06, Alan Wexelblat <awexelblat at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> You're right, I did use overly strong language in my rant, and I'm
> sorry. It wasn't intended personally. I think Jared's comment is
> naive and that you're right, the license is far straonger than patents
> are/would be. My point was that whether or not MSFT patented in
> anything in Office 2007 has little or nothing to do with whether you
> or I can come up with what we'd consider relevant prior art.
>

29 Nov 2006 - 6:14pm
Mark Bardsley
2006

Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> - patent examiners are not skilled in the art. At best they're
> generally familiar with computers and software.
> - patent applicants are not required to disclose prior art. OK,
> technically they should but ignorance is bliss. If you fail to
> disclose then it's on the examiner to find prior art and if he does
> find some all that happens is you need to resubmit. There's no
> penalty for - let's be frank - lying by omission.
> - software patents have PATHETIC levels of prior art reference. If
> you doubt this, do just a few seconds of searching on the USPTO site.
> Go ahead, it's public on the web at
> http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html

I asked a friend's perspective who is a patent attorney that has worked at
Silicon Valley law firms representing large and small software clients and
is currently a corporate patent attorney at a large company that has been
mentioned as part of these discussions.

Before I quote him he also wanted me to state that the views are not his
"personal views, are not legal advice, and do not necessarily reflect the
views or positions of my employer, past clients, or future clients."

So here are his thoughts:

"1. Duty of patent applicant to disclose prior art that may be material to
patentablity. Here, I think he misstates the law. In particular the poster
says "patent applicants are not required to disclose prior art". this is
incorrect. Patent applicants (and their attorneys) are under a legal duty
to disclose all prior art that may be material to the patentablity of the
claimed invention that is not merely cumulative with the art already of
record. In this regard, you might direct the poster to 37 CFR 1.56. The
penalty for violating this duty is severe. Specifically, if it is found
that the patent applicant intentionally didn't disclose prior art material
to patentablity for a patent application, the resultant patent is
unenforceable. That is, basically all rights of the patent are gone if the
patent is procured by the applicant concealing material prior art. I think
it is fair to say that in basically all patent litigation, the accused
infringers very, very thoroughly investigate the prior art the inventor knew
about and check to see that the inventor properly disclosed this. Failing
to comply with this duty under rule 56 is called "inequitable conduct".
Invite the poster to search the internet, including case law from the court
of appeals for the federal circuit, regarding inequitable conduct."

"2. Citation of prior art in software cases - Here, the poster's anaysis is
lacking. The poster states "software patents have PATHETIC levels of prior
art reference" and "proves" his allegation by noting the number of
references cited in a single software patent. I think the quality of a
prior art search is determined by whether the searcher found prior art that
would anticipate or render obvious the claimed invention. That is, a
searcher could find 10,000 references (including research papers, books,
IEEE papers, foreign language documents, and the like) that mention TCP/IP,
but that aren't really directed to the specific problem solved by the
subject matter of the patent application or details of the solution of the
patent application. Despite having a large number of references from many
sources, I wouldn't regard this as a particularly good search. This type of
search could be done on google in about 10 seconds. On the other hand, a
searcher could find 2 or 3 references that were published before the filing
date of the patent application that either disclose the patent application's
solution, problem addressed, or components of the solution. This search
would be more helpful to determining the question of patentablity. In
short, I think the true measure of the quality of a search is whether there
is better prior art out there than that cited by the examiner or disclosed
by the applicant."

"3. Related to my point #2 above, for the prior art to be helpful in
determining patentabity, whether it was published a day before the invention
or 100 years before the invention, the law considers it the same. So the
fact that age of the oldest reference cited is much less than the age of the
underlying technology shouldn't be a concern. In fact, for inventions that
are really innovative, you would think that if they were known by others
that they would have only been known at most a few years before. 20 year
old prior art is typically not that helpful for software patents due to the
fast pace of innovation in this area."

"4. I'm not saying the art cited in this particular Microsoft patent is the
closest prior art or that a competent search was performed. I am saying
that this poster hasn't said anything to make me think that the search was
inadequate. Invite the searcher to find a reference published before the
filing date of this patent that discloses the features recited in this
patent's claims in the same manner they are recited in the claim that was
not cited by the examiner. If the searcher can do this, then they can argue
that the search wasn't adequate. Without such a showing, I don't think they
are saying much."

"5. Having worked on software patents, it is my sense that the U.S. Patent
office's ability to search software patents has improved a lot over the past
8-10 years. It's not perfect, but they do what they can given the time and
resources they are given."

- Mark Bardsley

30 Nov 2006 - 3:17am
pabini
2004

I doubt the ribbon is patentable. Some aspects of it are quite similar to
other user interfaces I've seen, including Dreamweaver's toolbars. It would
be interesting for more people to comment on which elements of the Office UI
they think are innovative and those for which they know of specific prior
art. There is some good work in the Office 2007 UI, but with the licensing
Microsoft is requiring, employing their guidelines won't be a viable option
for most of us.

You're not being paranoid, Pauric. This licensing ploy is absolutely about
establishing competitive advantage against Office competitors. They're
trying to establish new standards, but exclude their competitors from
following them.

To see how the Office UI applies to the various Office applications, check
out this video:

http://channel9.msdn.com/showpost.aspx?postid=114720

Todd, there's no visible affordance for moving the ribbon, and since the
commands at the top replace the menu bar, it's usability would likely suffer
if it weren't at the upper left. However, I agree that the other elements on
the ribbon would be better placed at the side rather than at the top where
they reduce the workspace.

The preview of the 2007 MICROSOFTR OFFICE SYSTEM USER INTERFACE DESIGN
GUIDELINES describes the behavior of the ribbon in detail. It says, "The
layout of controls in the Ribbon changes when the width of the application
window changes. When displayed on a large monitor, the Ribbon will adjust to
show the "large versions" of groups in the Ribbon. When displayed on a small
monitor, or when the user chooses to manually reduce the size of the
application window, the Ribbon will adjust to show the "small versions" of
groups in the Ribbon. The Ribbon is not designed for a particular display
resolution. The Ribbon simply provides the best arrangement of the controls
for the application and displays that arrangement appropriately for every
possible size of the application window."

With such a complex algorithm controlling the display based on width, it
doesn't seems likely that they've also implemented these behaviors based on
height without documenting those behaviors.

Here's a link to the PDF of the preview guidelines:
http://officeblogs.net/UI/Preview%202007%20Microsoft%20Office%20System%20UI%
20Design%20Guidelines.pdf

Dave, regarding your #3--the MiniBar seems totally webby to me--Web 2.0
anyway. So do the tabs.

http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2005/10/06/477801.aspx

Russ, there is a treasure trove of information from Jensen Harris's preso on
the BayCHI site here:

http://www.baychi.org/calendar/20051213/

His preso doesn't cover specific data from their research though. I attended
that event and was excited about the work he showed. I do love the preview
feature. At that time, I was hoping the work would find its way into Vista.

It's hard to find research data on Harris's blog. There is some information
here that covers what he spoke about at BayCHI:

http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/04/05/568947.aspx

The entire series "Why the UI" is interesting.

http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/tags/Why+the+New+UI_3F00_/default.aspx

MS Word certainly did need an overhaul. In Office 2003, they made styles
completely unusable. They'd previously worked just fine. However, it's not
just the user interface of Office that needed an overhaul. When I spoke with
Harris after his BayCHI presentation, he told me the team was unaware of the
bugs that prevent me from using Office for most things, and at that time,
they had no plans to fix them. I'm referring to Word's inability to reliably
retain text formatting applied to selected text and the fact that selecting
a different account often wipes out a message you've typed in Outlook. For
me, the jury is out on Word till I ascertain whether they've fixed these
bugs. The good work we designers do is for naught if an application's bugs
destroy its user experience.

Even if I do enjoy using the Office 2007 UI, I wouldn't think of signing
that license agreement.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
__________________________

Pauric wrote: "When I look at the Ribbon for example, ... all I see is 7
high level groups and the menu items put in to panels with
icons, instead of the old drop down lists.

"I would find it very hard to believe that MS would pass up an opportunity
to patent any of this.

"My reading of this licence makes me think it is more of a strategic play in
advance of the Office wars."

Todd Warfel wrote: " One of the biggest issues I see with this paradigm is
that MS is taking up additional vertical space on the screen. Screens are
increasing in size, yes. However, these palettes, or ribbons, seem to
be more appropriate at the sides of the screen than at the top. ... I assume
I can move them...."

Dave Malouf wrote: "I don't find this very "webby" at all.... 3. text
formatting widgets as overlay within the text editing space is
GREAT!

30 Nov 2006 - 9:37am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 29, 2006, at 3:26 PM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> I think Jared's comment is
> naive and that you're right, the license is far straonger than patents
> are/would be.

Naive or not, I could swear that was the point I was trying to make...

30 Nov 2006 - 10:08am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Nov 30, 2006, at 12:17 AM, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:

> I doubt the ribbon is patentable. Some aspects of it are quite
> similar to
> other user interfaces I've seen, including Dreamweaver's toolbars.
> It would
> be interesting for more people to comment on which elements of the
> Office UI
> they think are innovative and those for which they know of specific
> prior
> art.

My understanding is that even if all the parts of something aren't
new, the assemblage or use of those parts in a particular way can be
patentable. In fact, logically, it would have to be this way,
otherwise the people who own the patent for, say, screws would
control everything. You can't patent a button, but you can patent (or
try) one-click purchases via a button.

Dan

30 Nov 2006 - 10:25am
DrWex
2006

Sigh. It's a rant. I exaggerate for effect. But let's take the
lawyerly language and apply some reality:

On 11/29/06, Mark Bardsley <markb at luxworldwide.com> wrote:
> "1. Duty of patent applicant to disclose prior art that may be material to
> patentablity. Here, I think he misstates the law. In particular the poster
> says "patent applicants are not required to disclose prior art". this is
> incorrect.

What I said was that "technically" (or "legally") you are required to
disclose prior art of which you are aware. You're also technically or
legally required to obey the speed limit. I was not addressing the law
as written, but the reality as practiced. Here's how it goes:

I want to apply for a patent. The lawyer tells me to write down all
the prior art of which I'm aware. At that point I'm staring at a
blank piece of paper. What do I put there?

As I showed with my example, the pervasive practice in our industry is
to omit virtually ALL non-patent prior art and to cite only those
patents most likely to be found. The onus is then on the examiner to
find relevant prior art, a task for which they are ill-prepared, ill
equipped (did you know they're not supposed to use public search tools
like Google?) and pressed for time. The backlog in patent
applications is enormous - years before initial exam in many cases.

> penalty for violating this duty is severe. Specifically, if it is found
> that the patent applicant intentionally didn't disclose prior art material
> to patentablity for a patent application, the resultant patent is
> unenforceable.

Maybe. Again, let's look at actual practice - a patent issues and the
USPTO is done with it. For prior art to be considered there has to be
someone willing to challenge the patent and force the USPTO to do a
re-hearing. The onus is on the filing party not only to provide prior
art but to somehow prove that the patent-holder *knew* about this
prior art at the time of filing (or at least prior to the patent
issuing). The cost of doing this is insanely high, and your chances
are extremely slim.

Let's look at just one high-profile case: RIM vs NTP. Maybe you've
heard of "Blackberry" devices? In a multi-year running legal battle,
with costs well into the tens of millions, RIM was able to get a
re-exam of most of NTP's patents and even got several of them
invalidated (though NTP still has a couple more appeal layers to go
through). And yet, invalidated patents won NTP a
six-hundred-million-plus settlement.

So, um, yeah. Technically speaking, failure to disclose could cost
you a patent. But that's not how the game is played.

> That is, basically all rights of the patent are gone if the
> patent is procured by the applicant concealing material prior art.

Oh right, I should also address the notiion of "material" prior art.
This loops back to our notions of what is material vs what the USPTO
thinks is material. So not only do I have to prove that prior art
exists, have to prove that the applicant _knew_ about the prior art, I
also have to depend on the examiner's judgement as to whether the
prior art is "material." Because the applicant can always say "Well,
yes, I knew about that but I didn't disclose it because I didn't think
it was material."

> I think it is fair to say that in basically all patent litigation, the accused
> infringers very, very thoroughly investigate the prior art the inventor knew
> about and check to see that the inventor properly disclosed this.

As I described above, even if you DO slam-dunk the patent that may be
irrelevant to the legal case. What's the incentive to spend the
millions in legal fees if you're not going to get anywhere?
Rhetorical, I know. But my point is still - this is the way the game
is currently played.

> "2. Citation of prior art in software cases - Here, the poster's anaysis is
> lacking. The poster states "software patents have PATHETIC levels of prior
> art reference" and "proves" his allegation by noting the number of
> references cited in a single software patent. I think the quality of a
> prior art search is determined by whether the searcher found prior art that
> would anticipate or render obvious the claimed invention. That is, a
> searcher could find 10,000 references (including research papers, books,
> IEEE papers, foreign language documents, and the like) that mention TCP/IP,
> but that aren't really directed to the specific problem solved by the
> subject matter of the patent application or details of the solution of the
> patent application.

See, this is pretty much proving my point. It's true that I failed to
do any searches for prior art on extending TCP. I simply made a prima
facie claim that it was hard to believe 20 years of published research
on the protocol was ALL completely irrelevant. Your argument above is
precisely the sort of argument a lawyer makes when his client's patent
is challenged on prior art grounds. I further claim that if you
compare the amount of non-patent prior art cited in other fields (such
as chemistry, materials sciences, biotech) with the amount of prior
art cited on software patents you will find a huge disparity. I
invite anyone who wants to do it to perform the searches I described
on the USPTO's public site. Please feel free to disprove me.

> In short, I think the true measure of the quality of a search is whether there
> is better prior art out there than that cited by the examiner or disclosed
> by the applicant."

True, but not relevant to my point above.

> "3. Related to my point #2 above, for the prior art to be helpful in
> determining patentabity, whether it was published a day before the invention
> or 100 years before the invention, the law considers it the same. So the
> fact that age of the oldest reference cited is much less than the age of the
> underlying technology shouldn't be a concern.

This continues to miss my point. Microsoft's patent cites patent
prior art only for 8 years prior. That's equivalent to the claim
"We're not aware of any relevant patents on extending TCP prior to
this date." My point is that there are extremely popular and
well-known extensions to TCP prior to that date, such as the HTTP
protocol debut in 1992. The age of a technology is only relevant in
that the older it is the more time there has been for research and
public literature to be created, as well as for relevant systems to
have been marketed. I assert that this still stands as evidence that
the present state of software patent examinations is a joke.

> "4. I'm not saying the art cited in this particular Microsoft patent is the
> closest prior art or that a competent search was performed. I am saying
> that this poster hasn't said anything to make me think that the search was
> inadequate.

Thank you, you're making my point for me. The onus is on *me* to find
prior art. It's not on MSFT, nor on the examiner any more. And once I
find prior art I enter the morass of "relevant". You're demonstrating
exactly why the game is played the way it is. I further am making the
point that you can't go from a layperson's notion of what an adequate
search is to what the USPTO actually does. I think you're supporting
my case.

> Invite the searcher to find a reference published before the
> filing date of this patent that discloses the features recited in this
> patent's claims in the same manner they are recited in the claim that was
> not cited by the examiner. If the searcher can do this, then they can argue
> that the search wasn't adequate. Without such a showing, I don't think they
> are saying much."

I particularly love this part of the Catch-22. First, we render the
patent claims into convoluted language not understandable by
practitioners of the art. Then we ask them to interpret those claims
in the same way that CAFC will read them (and please let's not get
started on _that_) and then we ask this practitioner to translate a
work of art into claims language in such a way that it can be shown to
be relevant to the patent's claims.

And THEN, once I've performed this gymnastic, I have to prove to the
USPTO that its own people were incompetent. Because really what I'm
saying is that the examiner didn't do his job here since if he did he
would have found this prior art.

This is a level of burden that is effectively insurmountable by any
but the richest of legal teams. Again, it's how the game is currently
played. Since the issued patent is protected by such high walls the
incentive is all on the side of getting the patent. Only a
significant financial stake would ever justify challenging any patent.

> "5. Having worked on software patents, it is my sense that the U.S. Patent
> office's ability to search software patents has improved a lot over the past
> 8-10 years. It's not perfect, but they do what they can given the time and
> resources they are given."

It's that "time and resources given" bit that really counts. Would
you like to address the changes to examiner workrules, the increased
caseloads, and the restrictions on examiner use of public search
technologies?

Sorry for the length of this reply. I'm no lawyer, but I've been both
a patent applicant and been called on to help with challenges to
patents. I have a particularly jaundiced view of the process and the
state of software patenting.

30 Nov 2006 - 10:33am
.pauric
2006

Lets all agree to agree on this (o; the 'Licence' is a powerful tool that
on face value will stem the flow of users to the competition.

Another angle on this subject is that the maturing competition has spurned
MS to innovate the UI. However, it would appear to me that MS is still
relying on its formula of anti-competitive practices by locking developers
not under their control out of the game. It is still puting the bottom
dollar before the user, I feel that in the long term this is counter
productive in terms of making Office user focused and all the good things
that entails.

Here are my half baked ideas on why Open is the way to go for MS, as opposed
to licencing;
In the past I've found some open source programs lacking a certain level of
program management. This led to unfocused projects that were driven by
coders, missing UCD to a large degree. Industry, in general, did not take
open source as seriously as it could have, not much collaboration. MS did
not perceive a threat.

Today, I work on outsourcing to both the far east and the open source
community (one of my hats is driving development by spec'ing the UI first,
which is a nice place to be). The skills I can find in the community blow
anything from Taiwan right out of the water in terms of quality, skills and
cost surprisingly. We are bringing our business savvy to their technical
ability, producing high quality and reduced time to market - high ROI. To a
certain degree MS is doing this with Novell, however Balmer's legal threats
allude to their real motives there.

To use a rather poor analogy. MS is afraid to let their baby head off to
school, play with peers and have influences outside their control help their
baby grow/mature. They're in favour of a home schooling approach where they
vet the teachers and kids that want to interact. There is a strong risk
that Office will grow up to be a very dis functional entity because it never
got out to live int he real world. (sorry, thats a painfully bad analogy..
but couldn't resist)

So, MS should GPL the Office look and feel. Work with the rest of the
world. Sure, that might help the competition to start with, but in the end
I think MS will have a better product on their hands which should ensure
people keep buying it, right? It would be a big leap of faith for them,
something I dont think they will do though.

regards, and no offense to anyone that was home schooled... I'm sure you're
perfectly well adjusted.

30 Nov 2006 - 10:58am
.pauric
2006

you are correct Dan, when I said we 'distill a concept down to its basic
elements' when looking at a patentable idea it I was referring to our
process of evaluating the concept as a whole, take the ribbon as an example.
(bear in mind I'm not a patent expert.. but I would expect something like
this)

I would be asked to describe the Ribbon: Its a system for accessing
functionality. It has some contextual grouping. Each group has further sub
groups in the forms of panels that contain related features in the form of
icons. (bear with me as I havent actually touched office 07)

We would then take those 'building blocks' and see if someone built a
similar concept.... 'Lets see, has anyone used a hierarchical grouping to
present features in the form of icons? that would seem to be a common
concept - hard to patent'. For want of better words you look at like for
like, system to system, process to process. Not whether the individual nuts
and bolts have been used somewhere else as you rightly point out.

Also it is a given that all 'parts' of a patent are not new, otherwise you
would be patenting the 'new' parts as well. Therefore all sub elements of a
patentable idea are already patented, either by you or by someone else. One
thing that I've found is this process of breaking the description down helps
the IP expert understand the concept and using his skills he may see
something you dont as the creator. And then when you get the legalspeak
back it can be hard to believe they're talking about your idea (o;
>
>
>
> My understanding is that even if all the parts of something aren't
> new, the assemblage or use of those parts in a particular way can be
> patentable. In fact, logically, it would have to be this way,
> otherwise the people who own the patent for, say, screws would
> control everything. You can't patent a button, but you can patent (or
> try) one-click purchases via a button.
>
> Dan
>
>

30 Nov 2006 - 11:10am
gretchen anderson
2005

Pauric wrote:
>Lets all agree to agree on this (o; the 'Licence' is a powerful tool
that
>on face value will stem the flow of users to the competition.

Sorry to be a party pooper, but I can't agree here. ;) I'm actually of
the opinion that IP like this is bad for everyone. It goes against
design patterns that we all use, and it undermines idiomatic interfaces.

To stem the flow of users to the competition, make products that perform
well and delight. And constantly innovate and deliver what people want.

30 Nov 2006 - 11:37am
.pauric
2006

I wish this were true. In an ideal world Office would be sold as a
standalone product all of the time. As it stands all sorts of organisations
are 'encouraged' to include this package when upgrading operating systems,
servers etc.

"Microsoft has been billing Newham's
decision<http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/windows/0,39020396,39157443,00.htm>as
proof that its software can give better overall value than Linux.
However, this claim has been hotly contested by those in the open-source
camp, who have alleged that Microsoft was forced to make huge cuts in its
licence fees in order to keep Newham onside."
http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,1000000121,39163383,00.htm

I do think that this is a stop gap for MS, I expect a sea change to linux
(ubuntu maybe?) and once that happens, a strong uptake on open source
applications.

My personal opinion on where -all- of this is going is inline with Tim
O'Reilly's post on a new business model:
http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2006/11/insight_into_fu.html
He postulates that more companies will follow the Google model of giving
away services that are subsidised by advertising. I foresee a future that
has a sub-standard (ux) office product being offered for 'free' to compete
with open source equivalents, with advertising directly on your WordLite
ribbon (o;

What that means to us as UX designers? we may find ourselves being forced to
include revenue generation intrusively to the UX of web apps , and as
designer that does not have to deal with ads I find the thought of that
rather contradictory, reading ads is not a user goal in my mind. Website
design with ads is something I'm gladly naive in so I'm happy to be
corrected on this.

regards - pauric

On 11/30/06, Gretchen Anderson <gretchen at lunar.com> wrote:
>
>
> Pauric wrote:
> >Lets all agree to agree on this (o; the 'Licence' is a powerful tool
> that
> >on face value will stem the flow of users to the competition.
>
> Sorry to be a party pooper, but I can't agree here. ;) I'm actually of
> the opinion that IP like this is bad for everyone. It goes against
> design patterns that we all use, and it undermines idiomatic interfaces.
>
> To stem the flow of users to the competition, make products that perform
> well and delight. And constantly innovate and deliver what people want.
>
>

1 Dec 2006 - 4:01am
pabini
2004

Dan Saffer said: "My understanding is that even if all the parts of
something aren't new, the assemblage or use of those parts in a particular
way can be patentable. In fact, logically, it would have to be this way,
otherwise the people who own the patent for, say, screws would
control everything. You can't patent a button, but you can patent (or
try) one-click purchases via a button."

Yes, I believe that's true, but in the case of the ribbon, the overall
assemblage is what is similar to prior art. My guess is that the elaborate
behaviors they've designed for the display of the ribbon when a user resizes
a window are probably patentable, because they're so specific, but I doubt
the entire design is patentable. The one-click purchase patent is for a
process.

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fn
etahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=26&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=%22amazon.c
om%22.ASNM.&s2=click&OS=AN/%22amazon.com%22+AND+click&RS=AN/%22amazon.com%22
+AND+click

To Alan Wexelblat: Enjoyed your "rant." Sounds like a good description of
reality to me.

Gretchen Anderson wrote: "I'm actually of the opinion that IP like this is
bad for everyone. It goes against design patterns that we all use, and it
undermines idiomatic interfaces.

"To stem the flow of users to the competition, make products that perform
well and delight. And constantly innovate and deliver what people want."

Said like a true idealist, Gretchen. :-) I agree with you. This brings me
back to what I said earlier: These design patterns should be part of the
operating system, so all application developers could apply them uniformly.
Since they're not, I hope nobody adopts them. If companies don't sign the
license agreement, perhaps Microsoft will reconsider and make these elements
part of Windows as they should be.

Pauric said: "we may find ourselves being forced to include revenue
generation intrusively to the UX of web apps ... reading ads is not a user
goal in my mind."

Definitely not a user goal in most cases. :-) Fortunately, many Web
applications have a dual revenue-generation model. Users are either served
ads or pay a fee to use an application. Their choice. However, it's still
possible that having to design layouts for the presence of ads might
negatively impact the design for paying customers, unless ads always reside
on separate pages.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

1 Dec 2006 - 7:35am
.pauric
2006

On 12/1/06, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote: "Users are either served ads or pay
a fee to use an application. Their choice. However, it's still possible that
having to design layouts for the presence of ads might negatively impact the
design for paying customers, unless ads always reside on separate pages."

It would seem there's a blank canvass to work with here:
http://office.live.com/

I think someone commented on the ajax-esque look of the ribbon, and someone
else asked if it would not be better to place the ribbon to the side -
perfect for ads.

I'm left wondering if a signature on the 'licence' is the cost of entry in
to some form of app marketplace. It would make perfect sense for MS to
apply a unified look and feel to the new 'web as a platform'. I feel this
would certainly make working on a MS certified application more appealing
than fending for myself out in the wild, patching together various disparate
applications. My only concern is that the new office UI suites document
manipulation and does not fit well on to PIM or communications for example.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit also wrote: "My guess is that the elaborate behaviors
they've designed for the display of the ribbon when a user resizes a window
are probably patentable, because they're so specific,"

Maybe, is it much different than this gem?
http://haveamint.com/mint-demo.mov and there must be a few other sites that
use the sciptaculus sortable command that end up looking something like the
ribbon resize

1 Dec 2006 - 9:32am
Jared M. Spool
2003

People regularly pay a premium to avoid advertising (HBO, Video
Rentals, TiVO). If your prediction happens, it won't last for long. I
wouldn't worry about it too much.

http://tinyurl.com/yza82y

Jared

On Nov 30, 2006, at 11:37 AM, pauric wrote:

> What that means to us as UX designers? we may find ourselves being
> forced to
> include revenue generation intrusively to the UX of web apps , and as
> designer that does not have to deal with ads I find the thought of
> that
> rather contradictory, reading ads is not a user goal in my mind.
> Website
> design with ads is something I'm gladly naive in so I'm happy to be
> corrected on this.

1 Dec 2006 - 9:35am
Jared M. Spool
2003

And don't worry when someone just copies all the hard work and
investment you've made for 1/100th the cost, thereby giving them the
ability to sell the same product as you for greater margins. After
all, your customers will be happy they now can get the same wonderful
products at much cheaper products, even if you do go out of business
as a result. It's all about the customers, right?

;-)

On Nov 30, 2006, at 11:10 AM, Gretchen Anderson wrote:

> To stem the flow of users to the competition, make products that
> perform
> well and delight. And constantly innovate and deliver what people
> want.

1 Dec 2006 - 10:48am
.pauric
2006

On your blog "The Death March for advertising" I think you simplified the
revenue streams in to either/or. I do not see such a distinction for the
application developer/seller.

Say I'm MS. Say I've got word.live free with advertising and wordpro.live in
a pay per use model. To me it doesnt really matter where the money is
coming from, I have a version that users dont like, but which is advertiser
supported (shoot the monkey re-fi loan ad money will always be on the table)
,and I have a version that they do like and will pay for. Both models have
been shown to work very well: gmail & basecamp. I, as MS, dont really care
where the dollars are coming from. Consider advertising as 'reduced
functionality' in terms of a poorer UX, with users given the option to
unlock the app, something like a shareware model. That said, your views in
that blog post hold some water, this model failed for Opera.

To your second point on someone stealing my IU ideas. I do not think that
MS cannot stop someone copying the concept of ribbons or minibars, what they
can try to do is somehow exclude that app from too much exposure, I havent
figured out how exactly... my latest half baked conspiracy theory is an MS
certified app marketplace. But back to your point as I understand it. The
products I work on regularly get commoditised and the only differentiation
we can do is on the UI (
http://www.3com.com/en_US/jump_page/unified_switch.html ) No matter how
many agreements and contracts we sign with vendors there is little we can do
to stop shops in China 'learning' from my designs. And frankly, I welcome
the challenge. The end result is a better UI.

Take your position to the extreme. Every interface is some one's
intellectual property. The web would grind to a painful halt and we'd all be
out of a job. There certainly wouldn't be any interface design -discussion-
list

kind regards - pauric

On 12/1/06, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>
> And don't worry when someone just copies all the hard work and
> investment you've made for 1/100th the cost, thereby giving them the
> ability to sell the same product as you for greater margins. After
> all, your customers will be happy they now can get the same wonderful
> products at much cheaper products, even if you do go out of business
> as a result. It's all about the customers, right?
>
> ;-)
>
> On Nov 30, 2006, at 11:10 AM, Gretchen Anderson wrote:
>
> > To stem the flow of users to the competition, make products that
> > perform
> > well and delight. And constantly innovate and deliver what people
> > want.
>
>

1 Dec 2006 - 1:56pm
.pauric
2006

Jared said " We'll see how much you'll like the better UI if you end up
losing your job because customers buy from the cheaper developer. That's why
IP protection was put into place. "

With all due respect Jared a UI does not have a great impact on sales in the
enterprise. Explain to me why Notes is still around?
One only needs to look at previous iterations of Office to see this too. The
people who purchase enterprise class products rarely take usage in to
consideration. Its pricing, vendor reputation, interoperability, tco and
many other things I know little about.

While protecting IP is important, when it gets to the level of restrictive
practices as detailed in this license I think its gone beyond the realm of
protecting investments and in to the murky world of anti-competitive
behavior. Something MS is very familiar with.

I am not 'throwing the baby out with the bath water' when questioning MS
intentions here. They are using practices on the UI that they have applied
to other parts of their product distribution. But I'm repeating myself and
taking up bandwidth on this list that is somewhat off-topic.

I will sign-off on this with one final counter to a couple of statements you
made that have me hot under the collar (o;
Jared said "But I see no reason to complain when others choose to protect
their hard work." & "And don't worry when someone just copies all the hard
work and investment you've made for 1/100th the cost, thereby giving them
the ability to sell the same product as you for greater margins."

Hard work? If MS had designed the flippin thing right in the first place
they wouldnt have spent millions researching how users click around trying
to find a feature, then to develop a better way to let them access features
in Office. And that is all this is, a rehash of the same featureset. This
isnt really Design Investement, its a patch up job correcting earlier
mistakes. Now, one aspect of good design it a ground up approach to the
entire system, the presentation layer being the icing on the cake. Yes, a
vendor from taiwan can copy my interface designs but if they are in the
business of copying you can be very sure the underlying structure is buggy
and the engineers have a hard time incrementing the source on to the next
product on the roadmap. I see this all the time.

There's a saying, if you're not the lead dog the scenery never changes. So,
good luck to them, if you're copying me you're already a step behind.

1 Dec 2006 - 12:38pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Dec 1, 2006, at 10:48 AM, pauric wrote:

> Say I'm MS. Say I've got word.live free with advertising and
> wordpro.live in
> a pay per use model. To me it doesnt really matter where the money is
> coming from, I have a version that users dont like, but which is
> advertiser
> supported (shoot the monkey re-fi loan ad money will always be on
> the table)
> ,and I have a version that they do like and will pay for. Both
> models have
> been shown to work very well: gmail & basecamp. I, as MS, dont
> really care
> where the dollars are coming from. Consider advertising as 'reduced
> functionality' in terms of a poorer UX, with users given the option to
> unlock the app, something like a shareware model. That said, your
> views in
> that blog post hold some water, this model failed for Opera.

I understand how it could work. Only it hasn't worked that way in
any major form, yet. Maybe there's a reason for it.

It's not clear gmail's advertisers get any value -- enough to cover
the costs of maintaining the ads. Google has the benefit that they
pitch a low rate market to a lot of suckers (people not capable of
doing a cost benefit analysis). But if no user ever clicks on any of
those ads, the effort is not worth it. (And google eventually boots
the ads out of the system.) Maybe this explains why Google hasn't
extended their ad-sense products into the Docs & Spreadsheets products.

And maintaining an ad network is expensive. And maintaining ads on
multiple networks is expensive. The ad-network market would be ripe
for consolidation, but that all introduces a problem with control
over ad display. Do you want your ads on a porn site?

So, I think this is problematic, at best. I think it's a short-term
phenomena and, at some point in the future, we'll see these types of
models vanish. More accountability is on the way for advertising
networks and, when it appears, the advertisers will realize that most
of their money is a waste.

>
> To your second point on someone stealing my IU ideas. I do not
> think that
> MS cannot stop someone copying the concept of ribbons or minibars,
> what they
> can try to do is somehow exclude that app from too much exposure, I
> havent
> figured out how exactly... my latest half baked conspiracy theory
> is an MS
> certified app marketplace. But back to your point as I understand
> it. The
> products I work on regularly get commoditised and the only
> differentiation
> we can do is on the UI (
> http://www.3com.com/en_US/jump_page/unified_switch.html ) No
> matter how
> many agreements and contracts we sign with vendors there is little
> we can do
> to stop shops in China 'learning' from my designs. And frankly, I
> welcome
> the challenge. The end result is a better UI.

We'll see how much you'll like the better UI if you end up losing
your job because customers buy from the cheaper developer. That's why
IP protection was put into place.

If you don't think IP protection is a good idea, don't protect your
IP. Nobody is forcing you to protect it.

But I see no reason to complain when others choose to protect their
hard work. It's their right and the market will bear the truth in
what is going on.

(I do think that IP protections should be limited in scope and time
and that the current system needs rethinking on those measures. But I
wouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water.)

>
> Take your position to the extreme. Every interface is some one's
> intellectual property. The web would grind to a painful halt and
> we'd all be
> out of a job. There certainly wouldn't be any interface design -
> discussion-
> list

Or maybe it would get more innovation and less me-too copying. Which
was its purpose in the first place.

IP Protection should come with a cost. Either something you're
building is worth protecting or it is not. For most web design, it's
not worth protecting, so you wouldn't invest in the protection costs.
(The underlying content probably is worth protecting, which is why we
have different types of protection: patents, copyrights, design
patents, trade secrets, and others).

Jared

2 Dec 2006 - 4:06am
pabini
2004

Pauric wrote: "I'm left wondering if a signature on the 'licence' is the
cost of entry into some form of app marketplace. It would make perfect sense
for MS to apply a unified look and feel to the new 'web as a platform'."

I think it is--whether for desktop and/or Web apps--but admission is barred
to companies who are developing products that compete with Office. I wonder
what would happen if a company signed the license to review the guidelines,
then implemented something that was in any way derivative of the guidelines.
Since it seems there's not that much that's original in the UI design of
Office 2007, perhaps the act of signing the license would constrain their
design more then it would be if they didn't sign the license. Now, I'm
starting to sound paranoid. ;-)

As I said earlier, I think it's Microsoft's goal to establish a new UI
standard that Office competitors cannot use, thus making their competitors
apps non-standard and undesirable. The alternative is that their new Office
UI would be perceived by users as non-standard, so they want non-competing
application developers to validate their new UI standard by developing their
products using it.

You're right that the layout changes that depend on the width of the ribbon
resemble dynamic layouts on Web pages or apps that emulate them. So, this
may be another aspect of Office 2007 that wouldn't be patentable because of
prior art.

Jared, loved your article on ads. Amen!

Pabini

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