Thursday, January 8, 2009

Looks like you're writing a blog post!

It's hardly the best-kept secret of the information age that Microsoft has never been a particularly creative or innovative company. I'm not sure I could name an application area they've ever dominated where someone else didn't originally produce the better product. But they were ingenious--piratical, even--about marketing their mediocre wares, and the results speak for themselves.

Did I say I couldn't name an application area that Microsoft didn't originally pioneer? I'm wrong. Microsoft is the Christopher Columbus of the annoying interactive animated application interface.

The folks at Technologizer have done the hard work, tracing the history of Microsoft patent applications for character-based animated interfaces. (Remember Bob? and Rover? Shakespeare and Einstein? How about Earl the surfer dude? )

Read the whole patent, and you’ll see that Microsoft put immense effort into the technical logistics of implementing Clippy. He wasn’t the spawn of a moment of temporary insanity; he was the result of a vast amount of cold, calculating effort.

True, users have generally hated these digital pests, but remember, this is Microsoft: They wear your scorn as a badge of honor.

An article on Microsoft’s own site published when Windows XP was released says that some people "loathe" Rover–can you name another instance of any company anywhere using that word in conjunction with customer response to a new product?

Tour one of the darker side streets in the world of intellectual property rights.

(Hat tip to Doctor Beyond.)

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