Microsofts week revolved around Motorola Mobility and Office.
On Feb. 22, Microsoft decided to escalate its long-running battle against Motorola (and Google, its new owner) by filing a formal complaint with the European Commission, which acts as an antitrust watchdog for the European Union.
Microsofts issues with Motorola extend back to late 2010, when the two companies began firing patent-infringement lawsuits at each other. Now, however, that conflict enters a potentially much more complicated phase.
We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products, Dave Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsofts Corporate Standards & Antitrust Group, wrote in a Feb. 22 posting on the Microsoft on the Issues blog. Their offense? These products enable people to view videos on the Web and to connect wirelessly to the Internet using industry standards.
In Microsofts telling, Motorola and other companies agreed to common technical standards for video and WiFi, the better for building compatible products. In exchange, patents governing those standards would be made available to participants on fair and reasonable terms.
Now, Heiner added, Motorola is demanding that Microsoft take its products off the market, or else remove their standards-based ability to play video and connect wirelessly. Moreover, the manufacturer is apparently demanding a hefty royalty for its patents.
The Motorola conflict, of course, is just one front in the larger battle between Microsoft and Google. Redmond has managed to persuade a sizable number of manufacturers to pay royalties for each Android device that rolls off their production line (Motorola, of course, being a notable holdout). However, Heiner argued that Microsofts quest to lock up Android manufacturers into these royalty agreements is wildly different than Motorolas maneuvering with standards-related patents.
There are big differences between Googles approach and Microsofts, he wrote in the blog posting. Microsoft is not seeking to block Android manufacturers from shopping products on the basis of standard essential patents. Rather, Microsoft is focused on infringement of patents that it has not contributed to any industry standard.
The battle with Motorola serves to highlight Microsofts increased focus on mobility. However, Redmond is also perfectly capable of collaborating with erstwhile rivals, as demonstrated by this weeks rumor that its prepping a version of Office for iPad.
The Daily claimed in a Feb. 21 report that a working prototype of the software indeed exists, and that Microsoft has asked Apple to approve it for release. The apps user interface is similar to the current OneNote app, it suggested, but it has hints of Metro, the new design language that can be seen in Windows Phone and in the as-yet-released Windows 8 desktop operating system. An exact release date is unknown, although Microsoft has apparently finished the actual work.
The app enables the creation and editing of Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. According to unnamed sources speaking to The Daily, a version of Office for Android is not in the works. Microsoft itself had no comment on the matter.
In terms of more concrete software releases, Microsoft announced that it would deliver beta versions of Visual Studio 11 and the .NET Framework 4.5 Feb. 29, the same day the company is expected to release its Consumer Preview of Windows 8. Visual Studio 11 will enable developers to build apps that allow devices to stay connected to cloud back-ends. Meanwhile, the .NET Framework 4.5 will allow developers to build responsive, scalable and efficient client and server applications.
It also introduced some improvements to Bing, its search engine. A new Linked Pages feature lets users associate pages from around the Web with their name, allowing others to tell the difference between, say, five different John Does. With Linked Pages, were letting you link Websites related to you by search results, read a Feb. 22 note on the Bing Community blog. Now your friends looking for you online can find what you want them to find. You can also link pages to your friends helping them shine on Bing as well.
Microsofts goal in buttressing Bings capabilities, obviously, is to make the platform a more robust competitor to Google. If theres one thing you bet on, its that the titanic battle between the two companies wont end anytime soon.