WinInfo Daily UPDATE, January 15, 2004

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1. In the News
- Massachusetts Backs Off OSS Pledge
- Microsoft Browser-Patent Retrial Bid Falls Flat

2. Announcements
- Need to Get Your Hands Wrapped Around SQL Server?
- Announcing a New eBook: "Content Security in the Enterprise--Spam and Beyond"

3. Event
- New Web Seminar: Email Is a Service--Manage It Like One

4. Contact Us
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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==== 1. In the News ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Massachusetts Backs Off OSS Pledge
After talking big about dropping proprietary software and moving to open-source software (OSS) solutions, the state of Massachusetts finalized its IT acquisition policy this week and says it will concentrate on open standards rather than OSS. The difference is hardly subtle: A move to OSS would have been extremely damaging to the state's current software suppliers, most notably Microsoft, which has set up itself as the poster child for proprietary software. Now, because the company has been pushing its move to open standards for years, Microsoft will likely continue to be the primary benefactor of Massachusetts' software purchases.
"The Commonwealth \[of Massachusetts\] has a responsibility to ensure that information technology solutions are selected based on best value after careful consideration of all possible alternatives, including proprietary, public sector code sharing, and open source solutions," says a statement Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney issued. Other factors also favor Microsoft. Describing the state's new IT procurement policies, Romney said in the statement that Massachusetts will concentrate on solutions that reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO), provide the "best value," and enhance flexibility and performance. The criteria reads like a Microsoft marketing message; the software giant has consistently argued that its software is a better value than open-source alternatives.
Although the new IT procurement policy ensures that the state will consider all options, Massachusetts has made one change that should satisfy OSS fans. Open-source solutions now are explicitly mentioned as candidates for consideration. "For all prospective IT investments, agencies must consider as part of the best value evaluation all possible solutions, including open standards compliant open source and proprietary software as well as open standards compliant public sector code sharing at the local, state, and federal levels," the policy states. Examples of the open standards Massachusetts says it will support include HTML; HTTP; the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP); TCP/IP; Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI); the Web Services Description Language (WSDL); and XML.
So how did the Massachusetts fiasco begin? Last fall, Eric Kriss, secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance, wrote a memo arguing that the state should abandon its "disjointed and proprietary" IT methods. And although reports about Massachusetts abandoning proprietary software were widespread, not everyone in the state felt that such a decision was inevitable or even advisable. Massachusetts Senator Marc Pacheco argued that giving preferential treatment to OSS over proprietary software was, in fact, illegal.

Microsoft Browser-Patent Retrial Bid Falls Flat
This week, a US District Court judge upheld a jury verdict against Microsoft that required the company to pay $520 million plus $45 million in interest for violating a controversial Eolas Technologies Web browser patent. Microsoft had hoped the court would throw out or elect to retry the case, but Judge James B. Zagel ruled yesterday that Microsoft had indeed infringed on the patent. Microsoft says it will appeal.
Although many Microsoft critics would typically celebrate such a ruling, the Eolas trial is sending shock waves around the entire computer industry because of the patent's vagueness and generality. If Eolas ultimately wins its case against Microsoft, no doubt Eolas will sue other Web browser makers, such as AOL, which makes the Netscape browser and backs the Web browser software suite.
"We're one step closer to the final resolution of this matter," said Eolas Attorney Martin Lueck, who was predictably pleased by the decision. "We feel good about our prospects on appeal and remain steadfast in our belief that the Eolas patent is not valid," a Microsoft spokesperson said yesterday.
In a related development, the US Patent and Trademark Office recently took the unusual step of reconsidering the Eolas patent, and a decision is still pending. The office noted that proof of "prior art" (i.e., software designs that provided the Eolas functionality before the company supposedly invented it) could merit a revocation of the patent. Numerous industry leaders, including those at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), have pointed to obvious cases of prior art, a hopeful sign for most of the industry.

==== 2. Announcements ====
(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

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Announcing a New eBook: "Content Security in the Enterprise--Spam and Beyond"
This eBook explores how to reduce and eliminate the risks from Internet applications such as email, Web browsing, and Instant Messaging by limiting inappropriate use, eliminating spam, protecting corporate information assets, and ensuring that these vital resources are secure and available for authorized business purposes. Download this eBook now free!

==== 3. Event ====
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

New Web Seminar: Email Is a Service--Manage It Like One
True end-to-end management of the messaging infrastructure requires an integrated, service-oriented approach. This free Web seminar introduces service-driven management and best practices for managing and monitoring the key elements crucial to ensuring email health and performance, including Exchange Server, Active Directory, network, and storage. Sign up today!

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4. ==== CONTACT US ====

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