Office Upgrades to Have Big Impact

UPDATED: The number of corporate PCs using Microsoft Office that have to be upgraded
due to a patent-infringement settlement might not be so small after all,
according to a new survey.

AssetMetrix Research Labs said 22 percent of the 600,000 corporate PCs it
surveyed that run Office with Access must be upgraded with Office 2003 SP2
and a special patch.

Microsoft previously said the number of users affected by the upgrade was a “small percentage.”

The company created patches and notified customers of the need to upgrade last month after losing a patent-infringement claim brought by inventor Carlos Armando Amado concerning the manner in which Access integrates with Excel.

Microsoft told customers using Microsoft Office Professional 2003 and
Microsoft Access 2003 that they must install Office 2003 SP2 and a special
patch to be in compliance.

AssetMetrix found that 68 percent of Office 2003 and Office XP
installs contained the offending Access code.

“This is quite a significant amount of affected installations,” said Jeff
Campbell, CEO of AssetMetrix, whose Ottawa, Canada, company uses an analytics
engine to sift through PC data.

However, Microsoft said in a statement the court ruling only affects customers in the process of new installations and any future installations of the affected products.

“The AssetMetrix report and tools only focus on existing installations and are not relevant to this patent case since this requirement is for new installations, not existing ones,” said Sunny Jensen Charlebois, a senior product manager at Microsoft.

“Our customers with existing installations of the affected products are covered by our indemnification policy; and we are providing customers with resources to help them install Office 2003 SP2 or the Office XP/Access 2002 patch or they can choose not to install Access.”

AssetMetrix said in a statement its report identifies the systems that
contain offending code so that IT staff can target them for the voluntary

“As future installations of Office and Access delivered by technology and
service providers must be of the new version, it is important that companies
upgrade their existing installations,” said Campbell.

As a Stanford University graduate, Amado created a way to connect Excel with
Access using a special spreadsheet. Amado secured a patent for his work in

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.

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