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RE: Official statement from Microsoft concerning CSS, XSL and US Pate nt No. 5,860,073

From: Chris Wilson <cwilso@MICROSOFT.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 15:37:53 -0800
Message-ID: <C35556591D34D111BB5600805F1961B90C3114B5@RED-MSG-47>
To: "'jrexon@newsguy.com'" <jrexon@newsguy.com>
Cc: www-style@w3.org
jrexon@newsguy.com [mailto:jrexon@newsguy.com] wrote:
>Which indirectly confirms my other statement, that MS already have
>excellent rendering code available, in an other department, that will
>never be reused where it could do some good in the browser department.

That's true, except...

>MS-word does have now (and has had for a considerable amount of time)...
>
>Automatic column layout of text
>Automatic hyphenation of text
>Pixel perfect rendering of fonts to correct size
>A very good implementation of the equivalent of "floating"
>and "absolute" positioned boxes.
>
>...just to mention a few items that could make a real difference in a
>fully recommendation compliant browser from MS.

...I was with you right up until you used the phrase "recommendation
compliant".  Word's implementation of these features is based on Word's
specifications; they have a very long history with an incredibly large
installed base of documents, and most of the features you mention were
developed long before CSS.  For example, Word's model for lists is nothing
like that used by CSS.  Word can't change this without breaking billions of
documents that already use lists - but unless we change CSS and rename it
"Open Microsoft Word Style Sheets", none of this implementation is directly
usable.  Word can certainly convert CSS to Word layout semantics and
vice-versa, but that conversion can't be lossless.

>My wish is for MS to take away the formal requirement that says that I
>have to "obtain a license" to use CSS technology. Make that an official
>statement and the "problem" can be buried for ever.

I'd like to say I think that will happen, but I doubt it.  If you read
pretty much any other Member Submission to the W3C, you'll find that the
boilerplate says pretty much exactly the same thing - that you will be able
to obtain a license to use that IP, in exchange for reciprocal rights.
That's true of XSL, for example, as well as PGML, VML, and most of the rest
of the Submissions to the W3C (http://www.w3.org/Submission/).  Even before
this patent flap, you would still "need to obtain a license" to use, e.g.,
XSL, because the companies who made the original Submission said you had to
(not just Microsoft).  I think this is an issue to be raised with the W3C
and how it works.

>>I felt it should be made crystal clear that Microsoft wants CSS and
>>XSL to continue to be developed as open standards, and that regardless
>>of any other applicability of the patent in question, CSS and XSL were
>>freely usable.
>
>If that really is the bottom line of this, have MS send out an official
>statement to that effect then, in words that could be easily read, even
>by people with a limited knowledge of the language.

Unfortunately, when dealing with points of law, you have to at least dabble
in lawyerspeak (no offense to lawyers intended).  This was as concise and
clear a statement as we could come up with in a reasonable time frame - the
more "clear" the statement, the less precise it generally is.

>>I got some agreement that this was the case, and worked
>>with our IP lawyers to come up with this statement.
>>I hope this statement puts some issues to rest.
>
>As written by you it does, and you have my thanks for that, still I
>think the "full body of MS" should make it officially clear too.

That statement is, in fact, not a statement from me - it is a Microsoft
statement.

>And I also want to apologize for the harsh words in my previous post, it
>was that "gut reaction of anger" that showed up. Now 24 some hours later
>I'm sorry about that.

No problem.  If I had really found your post offensive, I would have hit
Delete.  :^)

-Chris Wilson
Received on Wednesday, 10 March 1999 18:37:56 GMT

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