Microsoft Case Forces Office Users to Upgrade

Thanks to a court decision about the manner in which Access integrates with Excel, customers using Microsoft Office Professional 2003 and Microsoft Access 2003 are now required to install Office 2003 SP2 and a special patch.

Microsoft officials this week began alerting customers via e-mail who use those software packages of the necessary upgrades, a spokesperson with the Redmond, Wash., company said.

The decision comes after a court ruled that Microsoft had infringed a patent by inventor Carlos Armando Amado, who, as a Stanford University graduate, created a way to connect Excel with Access using a special spreadsheet. Amado secured a patent for his work in 1994.

Microsoft was ordered to pay $8.9 million in damages for infringing the patent, an award covering sales of Office between March 1997 and July 2003.

The software giant described the upgrade as an “inconvenience” in a statement sent to customers, but noted that only customers who are deploying or planning to deploy new installations of one of the effected products within their organizations are required to apply the updates.

“We understand that this will create an inconvenience for a small percentage of our customers and are committed to working with them through the process and easing the inconvenience as best as possible,” said Sunny Jensen Charlebois, senior product manager, worldwide licensing and pricing at Microsoft.

Microsoft would not specify how many customers would be affected by this change, but said all customers worldwide will have been notified about the need to upgrade by February.

Customers can obtain the Office 2003 SP2 patch here.

Customers can download the Office XP Professional and Access 2002 patch here.

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